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In the vanguard of the interurban era in 1893, the Sandusky, Milan & 
Norwalk Electric Railway opened service on the Ohio shore of 
Lake Erie. Rolling through pre-1900 Sandusky, the little white 
combine was headed toward Thomas Edison's birthplace, Milan. 
This company was later absorbed by the Lake Shore Electric Railway. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 



4 V-r» 











COD. 2 

I . H . 8 . 

Detroit United Railway's parlor car Genesee ran to Toledo in the 1920's. O. F. Lee Collection. 




Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 

First printing, 1961. Second printing, 1961. Third printing, 1965. Fourth printing, 1968. 

© 1961, by William D. Middleton. All rights reserved. This book may not 
be reproduced in part or in whole without written permission from the pub- 
lisher, except in the case of brief quotations used in reviews. Published by 
Kalmbach Publishing Co., Milwaukee 3, Wisconsin. Printed in U.S.A. 


To Dorothy, 
who was courted with the occasional assistance of the 
North Shore Line, and who has traveled a good many 
interurban miles since then with remarkable forbearance. 

1* OR the great assistance of many individuals in 
the preparation of this volume the author extends 
his most sincere appreciation. The magnificent selec- 
tion of pictorial material within its covers would 
have been impossible without the generosity of 
dozens of photographers and collectors, whose con- 
tributions are individually credited at the end of 
each caption. Much of the historical material, 
which would otherwise have been all but unobtain- 
able, was drawn from the painstaking publications 
of the numerous railroad enthusiast groups. Of par- 
ticular help were those of the Electric Railroaders' 
Association, the Electric Railway Historical Society, 
the Central Electric Railfans' Association, Interur- 
bans, and individual chapters of the National Rail- 
way Historical Society. For their kind help in locat- 
ing scarce material, suggestions and advice of every 
description, and assistance in compiling the listings 
contained in the appendix, special thanks are due 
J. D. Alrich of the General Electric Company, John 
Baxter, Morris Cafky, E. Harper Charlton, William 
J. Clouser, H. T. Crittenden, O. R. Cummings, 
Everett L. DeGolyer Jr., Frank P. Donovan Jr., Hall 
E. Downey of General Railway Signal Company, 
Donald Duke, Charles Goethe, William R. Gordon, 
Ross B. Grenard Jr., Herbert H. Harwood Jr., LeRoy 
O. King Sr., LeRoy O. King Jr., Randolph L. Kulp, 
Edward S. Miller, Louis C. Mueller, Foster M. Palm- 
er, Frank B. Putnam of the Security First National 
Bank, Los Angeles, Robert J. Sandusky, Martin 
Schmitt of the University of Oregon Library, Robert 
A. Selle, Donald K. Slick, John Stern, Paul String- 
ham, Stan F. Styles, Elmer G. Sulzer, Ira L. Swett, 
Francis B. Tosh, James W. Walker Jr., Robert S. 
Wilson, and Jeffrey K. Winslow. Particular thanks 
go to Freeman H. Hubbard, editor of Railroad 
Magazine, for making available valuable material 
in the magazine's files, and to Stephen D. Maguire, 
editor of Railroad Magazine's Electric Lines De- 
partment, whose extensive personal collection was 
made available to the author and who furnished 
many excellent suggestions. Special thanks are also 
due Bill Krueger and John Hogan of Campus 
Camera Inc., Madison, Wis., for their careful proc- 
essing of many of the photographs appearing in 
this volume, and to Bert Misek for his equally skill- 
ful handling of negatives from the George Krambles 

The Coming of the Interurban 
The Interurban Era 
The Interurban Car 
Roadside and Rural 

The New England Trolley 
Through Eastern Hills and Valleys 
The Middle Atlantic States - 
Trolley Sparks in Dixieland 

The South Atlantic States 
The Interurban's Midwest Empire 

The North Central States 
The McKinley Lines 

Illinois Traction System 
Insull's Interurbans 

The Great Chicago Systems - 
Way Down South 

The South Central States 
To Far and Lonely Places 
The Mountain States 
In the Far West 

The Pacific States 
Red Cars in the Southland 

Pacific Electric Railway 
Maple Leaf Traction 

Canada's Interurbans 
Traction in the Tropics 
Wrecks and Other Mishaps 
Trolley Freight - 
Exit the Interurban 
Interurban and Rural Railways in the 

United States, Canada, and Mexico 
Principal Interurban Carbuilders - 
Principal Types of Rolling Stock, 

Important Components, and Accessories 
Electrification and Current Collection 
Electric Railway Museums in the 

United States and Canada 


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IN the long history of transportation development 
in North America the interurban era is little more 
than a recent incident. In business terms the elec- 
tric interurbans must be considered a notable failure, 
and even in terms of public utility their span of 
useful service was exceedingly brief. Few of them 
operated much more than two decades before their 
role of local passenger carrier and light freight haul- 
er had largely been usurped by rubber-tired trans- 
port. Yet there was a time when they seemed to hold 
unlimited promise for the future, and a good num- 
ber of persons considered the age of universal elec- 
tric transportation to be just around the corner. 

To many adult Americans, now as much slave 
as they are master of their automobiles, the inter- 
urban railways linger among pleasant memories of 
an unhurried, less sophisticated time in the recent 

past. My father still recalls the arrival of the first 
"Crandic" interurbans in Iowa City during his un- 
dergraduate years at the University of Iowa. My 
mother, raised in Framingham, Mass., remembers 
with pleasure frequent girlhood excursions to Bos- 
ton on the fast cars of the Boston & Worcester "Trol- 
ley Air Line" ( the closed cars made her queasy, but 
the big open trolleys were wonderful ) . And when 
Great-Aunt Viola joined the family in Maine for 
the summer, she invariably arrived from Boston 
aboard the Shore Line trolley. One of my own 
earliest memories is of the big red interurbans of 
the Clinton, Davenport & Muscatine, which raced 
along the west bank of the Mississippi past my 
uncle's home in Le Claire with what seemed, to a 
small boy's eyes, blinding speed. 

In attempting to record something of the color- 

ful era of the interurbans I have been confronted 
with the problem of deciding just what was an in- 
terurban, for the intercity electric railway existed 
in almost infinite gradations between what were lit- 
tle more than long streetcar lines and systems that 
were virtually identical to electrified steam trunk 
lines. E. D. Durand, while he was Director of the 
Census, defined an interurban as "a railway having 
less than half its track within municipal limits." 
Many electric railway enthusiasts have limited the 
term interurban to systems meeting rigid standards 
of high-speed, intercity operation over private 
right of way, and some refuse to grant interurban 
status unless the company transported mail and ex- 
press on the cars. One railroad fan considered a 
line an interurban only if the cars had railroad 
roofs and lavatories. None of these definitions have 

been adhered to slavishly here, and the occasional 
appearance within this volume of electric rail- 
ways meeting none of these criteria represents no 
more than personal preference. It is hoped that 
these lapses will be excused by those with more rigid 

Wherever possible I have chosen illustrative ma- 
terial that is previously unpublished or has been 
but little seen, but where completeness of coverage 
has occasionally required the use of illustrations 
that have been widely published in other works on 
the subject, they have been used without hesitation. 

William D. Middleton 

Gblciik, Turkey 
August I960 


The Coming of the Interurban 

Splendid in its newness, this Union Traction Company in- 
terurban sped through rural Indiana on a Fort Wayne 
Limited schedule. General Railway Signal Company. 



>*> *t 



The Coming of the Interurban 

A. HISSING SOUND from the copper wire draped 
overhead, the urgent clatter of whirling steel wheels 
on rail joints, and a wailing air horn that com- 
manded respect and attention signaled its coming. 
Shoving a massive arc headlight and a wooden cow- 
catcher of imposing dimensions before it, the in- 
terurban came racing across the countryside, faster, 
it seemed, than anything else of man's invention. 
Trackside vegetation bent aside suddenly at its 
passing; there was the brief odor of ozone and hot 
grease from the spinning traction motors; and pas- 
sengers, reclining in plush-upholstered ease within, 
looked down idly from the Gothic windows of their 
varnished vehicle. And then it was gone, leaving 
behind only a dust cloud and a gently swaying 
trolley wire. 

The interurban was an American transportation 
phenomenon. Evolved from the urban streetcar, the 
interurban appeared shortly before the dawn of the 
20th century, grew to a vast network of over 18,000 
miles in two decades of exuberant growth, and then 
all but vanished after barely three decades of use- 
fulness. But within its brief life span the interurban 
bridged the gap between a horse and buggy nation 
and a modern America that rides on rubber over 
endless lanes of concrete and asphalt. It changed 
the ways of rural life forever, and frequently set a 
pattern for metropolitan growth that continues even 

The practical electric railway was not the in- 
vention of one man, or even of a few men. The 
period of experimentation that ultimately led to 
electric transportation began about 1830. In 1834 
Thomas Davenport, a Brandon (Vt. ) blacksmith, 
built over a hundred model electric railway motor 
cars which operated by battery power. Eight years 
later a man named Davidson constructed for the 
Edinburgh-Glasgow Railway a 7-ton electric car 
which attained a speed of 4 miles per hour with 
power from an iron-zinc sulphuric acid battery. In 
1851 Prof. Charles G. Page, with $30,000 appro- 
priated by Congress, constructed a battery-powered 
locomotive that reached speeds as high as 19 miles 

per hour between Washington and nearby Bladens- 
burg, Md. The contraption was far from practical, 
however, and some called it the "electromagnetic 

The development of the dynamo, or generator, 
after 1860 and the discovery that a dynamo could 
drive a motor proved to be the key to the practical 
electric railway. Moses G. Farmer operated one of 
the first cars with a motor and dynamo in 1867, and 
the subsequent experimentation of such men as Leo 
Daft and Charles Van Depoele, as well as many 
others, brought America to the threshold of the age 
of electric traction by the late 1880's. The construc- 
tion of the first really successful electric railway at 
Richmond in 1887 by a young Naval Academy 
graduate, Frank Julian Sprague, was followed by 
wholesale electrification of America's animal- and 
cable-powered street railways. 

The interurban, a logical development from the 
electric street railway, soon followed. What was 
perhaps the first interurban — although it eventually 
became no more than a long streetcar line — began 
operating between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis 
and St. Paul in 1891 and soon forced severe curtail- 
ment of passenger service on the competing steam 
railroads. What is most frequently regarded as the 
first true interurban, the 15-mile East Side Railway, 
began operating between Portland and Oregon City 
in February 1893. Another of the earliest interur- 
bans, the 20-mile Sandusky, Milan & Norwalk in 
Ohio, began operation later the same year. 

A principal obstacle to the development of long 
interurban lines was the impracticality of transmit- 
ting over long distances the low-voltage direct cur- 
rent used for electric car operation. The introduc- 
tion in 1896 of distribution systems which employed 
high-voltage alternating-current transmission lines 
and substations which converted the power to the 
necessary low- voltage direct current solved this 
particular problem, and during the last few years 
of the 19th century the great interurban railway 
boom began to gather momentum. The perfection 
of a multiple-unit control system by Sprague in 


Operating over what is generally regarded as the first true interurban line, this big Oregon Water Power & 
Railroad Company car, with two open trailers in tow, paused at Golf Junction on the Portland-Oregon 
City line early in the century. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

1898 which permitted the operation of a train of 
electric cars under the control of a single motorman 
in the lead car was another important aid to the 
development of interurban lines. 

The origin of the term "interurban" (from the 
Latin for "between cities" ) is usually credited to 
Charles L. Henry, an Indiana state senator and later 
a U.S. congressman, who is said to have developed 
the word to describe the intercity electric railways 
he was then planning after seeing the "intramural" 
electric railway at the 1893 Chicago World's Colum- 
bian Exposition. Henry, sometimes called the 
"father of the interurban," was a pioneer in Indiana 
interurban development and completed the state's 
first 11-mile line in 1897, which he later built into 
the 400-mile Union Traction Company, serving 
much of central Indiana. 

The interurbans seemed to fill a travel void for 
much of America. Aside from what slow, infrequent, 
and grimy local passenger service might be avail- 

able from the steam railroads, rural America was 
pretty well restricted to whatever lay within horse 
and buggy range. The interurbans were bright and 
clean, stopped almost anywhere, and ran far more 
frequently than the steam trains, for one car made 
a train. Once in town the cars usually operated 
through the streets and went right downtown. They 
were almost always cheaper than steam trains, too. 
Small-towners and farm folk alike swarmed 
aboard the new electric cars to spend a day in the 
city, shopping or just seeing the sights. Equally im- 
portant, the fast package and light freight service 
opened up new markets for farmers and made big 
city merchandise quickly available to the local shop- 
keeper. The commercial traveler, or "drummer," 
took to the interurbans with enthusiasm for they 
carried him to the heart of the business district, 
often right to his hotel tloor, and the frequent 
schedules made it possible to cover more cities and 
towns in a day than he could on the steam trains. 


Among the earliest interurbans was the Sandusky, Mi- 
lan & Norwalk, which opened in 1893. This photo- 
graph was taken in Norwalk, O., in 1900. JOHN A. 
Rehor Collection. 

Indiana lawyer, state senator, and U. S. congressman Charles L. Henry 
was credited with originating and popularizing the word "interurban" and 
became known as the "father of the interurban." The first section of his 
Union Traction Company, opened in 1898, was Indiana's first interurban. 
Until his death in 1927 Henry remained an indefatigable advocate of in- 
terurban railways. Harris & Ewing, from Indiana Historical Society. 



Motorized construction equipment was still in the future even during the last years of interurban de- 
velopment, when the Salt Lake & Utah constructed its line into Payson, Utah, on the eve of World 
War I. Fred Fellow Collection. 

A Milwaukee Northern Railway track gang pushed north into the village of ( edai burg. Wis.. 
in the winter of 1906-1907. The Milwaukee Northern builders. Comstock. Haigh c II 'alker 
Company beat Milwaukee Electric' s John I. Beggs to the routes north of Milwaukee. A planned 
Fond du Lac branch, which would have left the Shebo\gan line here, was never built. 
David A. Strassman Collection. 


Payson, Utah, devoted itself to hilarity in 1916 upon completion of the Salt Lake & Utah in- 
terurban into town from Salt Lake City. Shortly after arrival of a special train bringing 300 
guests from Salt Lake, SL&U President W . C. Orem and other dignitaries addressed the crowd 
from a flag-bedecked flat car, and Gladys Orem, daughter of President Orem, and Payson carni- 
val queen Mrs. George Done drove a golden spike. A parade of 200 automobiles and a two- 
day carnival followed. FRED FELLOW COLLECTION. 

A 1906 Street Railway Journal editorial observed 
the "marked improvement" in the appearance of 
properties along an interurban. "These great ar- 
teries of commerce are stimulating and benefiting to 
those sections of the country through which they 
pass," concluded the Journal. 

John R. Graham, president of the Bangor Rail- 
way & Electric Company, orating on electric rail- 
ways and the farmer at a 1914 convention, noted that 
"social conditions on the farm have been greatly 
improved as a result of the electric railway" since 
the advantages of the city were easily available. The 
problem of keeping the young people down on the 
farm was solved, he declared. 

There was, indeed, much truth in these pompous 
statements, for the fast, frequent, and inexpensive 
electric transportation did stimulate local trade, 
and helped to break down the 19th century pro- 
vincialism of many small towns by opening up the 
world around them. 

Frequently the interurban had equally significant 
effects on American urban centers. Just as streetcar 
lines set the pattern for growth within the city, the 
interurban lines that radiated from the cities often 
established the direction of suburban growth. In the 

older Eastern cities the pattern was already defined 
by the steam railroad commuting lines, and the in- 
terurbans did little more than supplement it; but in 
the newer cities of the Midwest and West, popula- 
tion frequently followed the electric cars. Probably 
no urban area's growth was more greatly influenced 
by interurban development than that of Los Angeles 
and the Southern California communities around it, 
which fused from separate small towns into one 
great metropolitan area, largely along the lines of 
the 1000-mile Pacific Electric Railway. 

Indianapolis was America's greatest traction cen- 
ter, and interurbans extended in a dozen directions 
from the city, making it a great commercial center 
for all of Indiana. During the first decade after the 
turn of the century the city's population growth of 
38 per cent was largely attributed to the interurban. 
Comparing during the same period the 19 per cent 
growth of St. Louis, less well-endowed with interur- 
bans, the St. Louis Republic observed rather petu- 
lantly, "A city without great wealth, without large 
industry, without a university, without navigable 
water, without coal, without natural beauty of site 
has grown because it made it easy for its neighbors 
for 100 miles around to drop in before dinner, per 


trolley car, and leaving after an early supper, to 
get home by bedtime." 

Rooted in real need, the electric railway boom 
was nurtured to phenomenal growth by its enthusi- 
astic advocates. By 1917 over 18,000 miles of interur- 
ban lines and nearly 10,000 cars were being operated 
in virtually every state of the Union. The network 
reached its fullest growth in the five central states 
of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin 
where better than 40 per cent of the nation's inter- 
urban mileage was concentrated. Indiana and Ohio 
in particular had virtually complete systems. 

The spectacular growth of the interurban's golden 
years of expansion was not without its price. Sparked 

by overzealous local boosters or glib promoters more 
interested in fast money than in soundly conceived 
electric railways, many a line hopefully went into 
business with little more in outlook to sustain it 
than local pride, and many more never even got 
beyond the prospectus stage. In 1910 the financial 
editor of World's Work estimated that 9 out of 10 
projected electric railways were stillborn, and Brill 
Magazine described the mortality of projected elec- 
tric railways as "something frightful." Even in 1909, 
one of the interurban's most prosperous years, 22 
electric railway properties went into receivership. 

Typically, the interurban was built largely with 
local capital and was quickly and cheaply con- 

A gay crowd at Santa Monica on April 1, 1896, attended the arrival of the first Pasadena & Pa- 
cific interurban, which carried local officials and prominent citizens, and was followed shortly 
by a car loaded with Minnesota tourists. The schools were dismissed at noon, guns were fired, 
bands played, and Gen. Moses H. Sherman, one of the line's promoters, and Mayor Pratt 
of Minneapolis were decorated with flowers. The usual refreshments and oratory fol- 
lowed. Historical Collections, Security First National Bank, Los Angeles. 


This hat-waving crowd of "Glendale Boosters" had just arrived aboard the first train into Pacific 
Electric's new Subway Terminal at Los Angeles in 1925. Historical Collections, Security 
First National Bank, Los Angeles. 

Milwaukee Northern Railway's 
big Niles cars reached Cedar 
Grove, Wis., August 31, 1908, 
and citizens found out what the 
humming rotary converter in 
the brick depot had brought to 
their hamlet. That all were not 
awed by the first-day speeches is 
evidenced by the determined 
contingent exiting left, no 
doubt heading uptown to discuss 
the event over steins of some 
potent local lager. David A. 
Strassman Collection. 




Indianapolis was among North America's greatest traction centers, and after 1904 electric cars from 
the 12 routes entering the city used the new Indianapolis I taction Terminal. The adjacent nine-storj 
office building and the great traiushed cost over a million dollars. In 1 9/ 4. one of the Indiana interur- 
bans' peak years, 7 million passengers passed through the terminal and a dail\ average of 520 passenger 
cars and nearly 100 freight cars were accommodated. George Krambles Collection. 


Occasionally interurban promoters, 
too strapped for cash to string trolley 
wire or to build power plants, went 
into business with gasoline motor 
cars as a temporary expedient until 
they could round up the necessary 
funds. One such line was the 21-mile 
Woodstock & Sycamore Traction 
Company in Illinois, which started 
operation in 1911 with three of these 
fearsome-looking knife-nosed McKeen 
gasoline cars. Among the least suc- 
cessful of interurban ventures, the 
Woodstock & Sycamore was aban- 
doned in 1918, before its owners 
ever did get around to electrification. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

The roadside development often characteristic of 
interurbans is illustrated here by the West Chester 
line of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 
Company. The 1914 Jewett interurban shown was 
funked a few months ajter this 1949 photograph 
was made, but the line itself continued to operate 
for another five years with streamlined equip- 
ment. Charles A. Brown. 

structed with expectations of immediate and sub- 
stantial profits. Within cities the interurbans usually 
followed the tracks already used by street railway- 
systems, and intermediate towns were often traversed 
in a similar manner. Once out of town the inter- 
urban usually took to its own private right of way, 
sometimes paralleling the rural roads and sometimes 
striking off across the open countryside, but almost 
always following the ups and downs of the natural 
topography to avoid the expensive cuts and fills of 
steam railroad practice. An extreme example was the 
Syracuse & Suburban Railway, whose builders de- 
cided to follow the existing highway for their 12- 
mile line to Edward Falls. This decision resulted in 
what Brill Magazine aptly termed an "arduous align- 
ment and profile." Grades as steep as 1 1 per cent 
were frequently encountered. 

Interurban rail sections were light, and ballast, if 
it was used at all, was skimpy. The trolley wire was 

Los Angeles, too, was among the great traction 
centers. Pacific Electric Railway's Henry F.. Hun- 
tington constructed the magnificent .Wain Street 
Terminal, Los Angeles' first "skyscraper," in 1904 
to accommodate the interurbans of the rapidly 
growing PE. Even at the time of this 1950 photo- 
graph, the terminal was still the center of intense 
interurban activity, WILLIAM D. MlDDLETON. 


usually simply suspended from wooden poles. Oc- 
casionally the interurban builders adopted construc- 
tion standards that were equivalent to those for high- 
class steam railroads, but such lines were in a minor- 
ity. All of the construction short cuts of the early 
years, though they helped the interurbans begin 
operation in a hurry at low cost, proved to be 
fatal liabilities in later years, when high speeds and 
the operation of long freight trains became the keys 
to survival. 

Sometimes communities along the projected route 
of an interurban were so eager for the stimulating 
effects of electric transportation that substantial 
grants or subsidies were offered as inducements to 
the promoters. One Indiana line, the Winona Rail- 
way, had to build the last section of its line between 
Warsaw and Peru in a headlong rush in order to be- 
gin operation by the February 1, 1910, deadline date 
required to collect the subsidy money proffered by 
counties along the route. 

Because the interurbans were almost always small, 
locally backed ventures, they were usually sensitive 
to local aspirations and wants, and as a rule, electric 
railwaymen refrained from the sort of "public be 
damned" shenanigans practiced by the steam rail- 
road barons of earlier years. There were occasional 
lapses, however, one of which occurred in 1924 on 
the Dayton & Western Traction Company. Valentine 
Winters, the D&W manager, became involved in a 

squabble with the city officials of New Lebanon, O., 
over paving between the rails of the electric line, 
which traversed city streets. Unable to reach a 
satisfactory agreement, Winters grandly ripped up 
his rails and built a new line around New Lebanon, 
on private right of way outside the corporate limits. 
"New Lebanon Says Winters Is Bluffing" headlined 
a Dayton newspaper at the height of the controversy, 
which may have had something to do with the name 
"Valley Bluff" which Winters gave the new D&W 
station just outside town. Tempers cooled, and a few 
years later the station was quietly renamed New 

Stung by the competition of the electric cars, 
which quickly siphoned off their local passenger 
and package freight business, the steam railroads 
often retaliated in heavy-handed fashion. Their 
hostility was manifested in many ways. Some tried 
to match the frequent service and low fares of the 
electrics, which proved to be a costly business. Soon 
after the new interurban line was opened between 
Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, la., in 1904, the com- 
peting Rock Island line began offering an hourly 
steam train service at low fares, with extra trains on 
Sunday. Similar measures were taken against an- 
other new interurban operating between Des Moines 
and Colfax. So enamored was the public of the new 
trolleys, though, that the steam trains were ignored, 
and after only a few months Rock Island retired 

Thrusting a rakish wooden pilot ahead of it, a Fort Wayne, Van Wert & Lima inter urban moved 
through the Lima Public Square about 1906, a year after the 62-mile interstate line opened for 
business. John H. Keller Collection, from Stephen D. Maguire. 

from the scene, unhappily licking its fiscal wounds. 

Other steam lines attemped to freeze out the new 
competition. In 1906 the West and Central Pas- 
senger Association, a steam road group, resolved 
that it would not recognize its electric competi- 
tion either by issuing joint tariffs or by making 
traffic agreements. One Midwest steam road, the 
Clover Leaf system (now part of the Nickel Plate), 
decided to buck the majority trend and issued inter- 
line tariffs with interurban lines, realizing a lucra- 
tive source of new business in the process. 

When the interurbans ventured into carload 
freight business, a similar hostility was usually the 
rule. In 1915 the Michigan Central Railroad fought 
all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court before it 

finally bowed to a decision of the Railroad Commis- 
sion of Michigan ordering it to make a physical con- 
nection for carload freight traffic with the Detroit 
United Railway, an interurban, at Oxford, Mich. 

Sometimes the steam road measures were more 
subtle. In 1914 former Utah Gov. Simon Bam- 
berger hinted darkly that the "keen antagonisms 
of the Gould and Harriman interests" had made it 
impossible for him to get outside financial aid for 
the construction of his Salt Lake City-Ogden inter- 
urban. Bamberger managed to raise enough local 
capital for the project and built his electric line 

Steam roads usually placed every possible obstacle 
in the way of electric line construction, and often the 

These two interurbans, typical of the distinguished wooden cars constructed 
by the Niles Car Works, met in the street at the Lake Shore Electric Railu,n'\ 
Nor walk (O.) depot in 1908. O. F. Lee Collection. 


En route to Fort Benjamin Harrison, a Union Traction Company of Indiana interurban trundled past 
the U.S. Court House and Post Office in Indianapolis sometime around World War I. William D. 
Middleton Collection. 

The fierce steam railroad-interurban rivalry of earlier years is typified by this view of a Lehigh 
Valley Transit interurban and a Reading train racing down parallel track near Souderton, Pa. 
B\ the time this photograph was taken in 1 950, however, there was little traffic left to squabble 
over, and in the decade since, electric car, steam locomotive, and this particular passenger train 
itself have vanished from the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. Lester WlSMER. 


interurbans, unable to obtain a grade-level crossing 
with a steam line, were forced to build a costly 
overpass or underpass. Sometimes such conflicts were 
resolved in a more direct manner. One celebrated 
incident of such a nature occurred in California 
when rival construction forces of the Northern 
Electric Railway and George Gould's Western Pacif- 
ic, both pushing toward Sacramento, arrived in 
Marysville about the same time. The two routes 
crossed at a point adjacent to an apiary just south 
of the Yuba River. Gould's men got their track in 
first, but the Northern Electric's track gang arrived 
soon after and on January 12, 1907, the great "Battle 
of the Bee Farm" took place when a hundred inter- 
urban men tore out all of the newly laid Western 
Pacific rail and put down their own track. 

A similar and even more violent skirmish had 
taken place two years earlier when a Petaluma & 
Santa Rosa Railroad track gang attempted to install 
a crossing with the California Northwestern in Santa 
Rosa, Calif. On March 1, 1905, after several months 
of legal maneuvering, a P&SR construction crew 
advanced on the crossing prepared to cut the steam 
road rails and install the electric line crossing, only 
to find CNW forces ready and waiting to repel 
them. Two steam locomotives, specially fitted with 

pipes to douse the P&SR men with steam and hot 
water, moved relentlessly back and forth across the 
intersection. As rapidly as the P&SR men dug be- 
neath the CNW rails, CNW men filled the excava- 
tion with sand and gravel from waiting cars. The 
electric men then drove two double-teamed wagons 
onto the rails in an attempt to blockade the steam 
men, only to have the wagons demolished by the 
charging locomotives, which played live steam on 
the panic-stricken horses. 

As the locomotives again bore down on the trolley 
men P&SR Director Frank A. Brush stopped them 
by flinging himself prostrate on the rails in their 
path. The two crews then came to grips in a bloody 
fist fight. Santa Rosa police arrested several of the 
steam road leaders, but the battle continued until 
CNW President A. W. Foster arrived from the south 
aboard a special train bearing 160 hired toughs and 
two Marin County deputy sheriffs. Before Foster 
could carry out threats to have Santa Rosa police 
arrested for not protecting his property, or fail- 
ing that to carry the day by brute force, P&SR ob- 
tained a Superior Court order commanding the 
CNW to cease its opposition, and the steam men 
reluctantly withdrew to San Francisco. A few hours 
later the electric men completed the crossing to the 
cheers of the crowd that had gathered to witness 
the excitement, and shortly before midnight the 
first interurban rolled into Santa Rosa under its 
own power. 

Speeding westward over a freshly built roadbed, 
a Sheboygan Light, Power & Railway Company 
car traveled to Plymouth, Wis., shortly before 1910. 
The trim interurban was built by the Cincinnati 
Car Company in 1908. 


Southbound to Oakland, the Sacramento North- 
ern's Bay Cities Limited stopped in the street op- 
posite the company's Sacramento depot shortly 
after World War I. The remainder of the trip 
would be made over the rails of the connecting 
Oakland, Antioch & Eastern, later merged with 
SN. In 1921 the electric cars began using the ornate 
interurban Union Station at Sacramento. The din- 
ing-parlor-observation car Bidwell was built by the 
company's Chico shops in 1914 for through service 
to the Bay Area. David L. Joslyn Collection. 

Some steam railroads, notably in New England 
and the Far West, recognized the electrics as poten- 
tially valuable feeder lines and developed extensive 
subsidiary interurban systems. "I will make con- 
nections even though the motive power be only an 
ox team," declared the Chicago Great Western's 
outspoken president, A. B. Stickney, who promptly 
went out and cornered a good share of Iowa's in- 
terurban mileage. Exorbitant prices paid for traction 
properties in an effort to develop a New England 
transportation monopoly accelerated a trip to the 
bankruptcy courts for the New Haven. On the West 
Coast the Southern Pacific Company had better luck 
with its interurban interests, and even today the SP- 
controlled Pacific Electric is a major originator of 
freight traffic. 

Horse and buggy traffic was plentiful but the motor 
car had not yet made an appearance when this Rock 
Island Southern Railroad interurban, dignified in 
Pullman green and gold lettering, circled the 
square in Galesburg, III. The car operated over 
a 19-mile line to Monmouth. Paul Stringham 

Most of the early interurbans were projects of 
rather limited objectives, befitting the modest means 
of their principally local backers. Later on, men of 
greater vision and working capital appeared on the 
scene to weld the profusion of small properties into 
great traction systems of truly impressive size, often 
covering entire states in trolley networks. 

An Illinois congressman, William B. McKinley, 
assembled a collection of smaller interurbans, along 
with the necessary new construction, into the 550- 
mile Illinois Traction System, the largest Midwest 
interurban. The West's great Pacific Electric system 
represented the combination of four major interur- 
bans, each itself the product of previous mergers. 
During the '20's Midwest utilities tycoon Samuel 
Insull assembled a chain of interurban systems that 
stretched from Milwaukee to Louisville. In the early 
years of the depression, Insull's Indiana holdings 
were consolidated into the Indiana Railroad System, 
which briefly operated a total of nearly 800 miles of 
track before piecemeal abandonments whittled down 
its size. 

Among the most intriguing of all electric railway 
projects, perhaps, were some of the bold schemes — 
unrivaled for sheer audacity — which never materi- 


alized. Consider the earliest of them all, an 1893 
proposal to build a 252-mile air line electric road be- 
tween Chicago and St. Louis. Dr. Wellington Adams, 
the line's promoter, proposed to use a multiphase 
electrification system, and let it be known that 
General Electric was prepared to furnish equip- 
ment guaranteed to travel 100 miles per hour in 
perfect safety. The line, to be completed within a 
year at a cost of 5.5 million dollars, was to be double 
tracked, with provision for two more tracks at a 
later date! In publishing reports that surveys were 
completed, right of way secured, and construction 
actually under way, the Street Railway Review 
cautiously advised its readers, "Just how much is 
true is hard to say." 

The editors of the steam railroad industry's 
Railroad Gazette were less restrained in their criti- 
cism, and worked themselves into a lather over the 
absurdities of the "electric chicken coops" of the 
proposed "through by lightning" railroad. After a 
three column editorial tirade against the project and 
its promoters, the Gazette refrained from belaboring 
the subject further "out of consideration for the 

In view of the state of development of the then 

infant electric railway industry, the St. Louis-Chica- 
go project was nothing short of fantastic, but prob- 
ably served well its real purpose of extracting money 
from the pockets of the gullible. 

The Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Rail- 
road, whose plans were unveiled to prospective in- 
vestors in a series of full-page newspaper ads in 
July 1906, was even more ambitious. To be straight 
as an arrow, with maximum grades of Yl of 1 per 
cent, and free of grade crossings, the projected Air 
Line would have reduced the mileage between Amer- 
ica's two greatest cities to 750 miles of double track 
"super railroad," fully 160 miles shorter than any 
steam railroad. Running times between the two 
cities would be reduced to 10 hours ("10 hours 
quicker than the quickest") by electric locomotives 
capable of 100-mile-per-hour speeds, and fares would 
be "S10 cheaper than the cheapest." Captivated by 
the enthusiasm of the Air Line's persuasive founder 
and president, Alexander C. Miller, and by promises 
of "profits almost beyond calculation," thousands 
rushed to buy Air Line stock. 

If economically unrealistic, the Air Line project 
was .tt least within the bounds of technical practi- 
cality, and in fairness to its promoters it should be 


stated that they were men of considerable railroad- 
ing experience and appeared to be honestly con- 
vinced of their project's feasibility. 

The first 100-mile division of the 150-million- 
dollar Air Line, from Chicago to Goshen, Ind., was 
to be completed within a year; but after seven years 
of effort, less than 30 miles of arrow-straight track 
had been finished when the project finally fizzled 
out, and the Air Line became part of just another 
minor interurban system. The Air Line's impossibly 
high construction standards created prohibitive 

costs, and stock sales lagged during the severe de- 
pression of 1907-1908. Many who had contracted 
to buy stock on the instalment plan were unable to 
keep up their payments. Miller's construction crews 
spent four years erecting a tremendous 2-mile fill 
across Coffey Creek Bottoms, east of Gary, Ind. Forty 
acres of standing timber went into a temporary 
trestle across the valley, and the fill that replaced it 
measured 180 feet wide at the base and contained a 
million cubic feet of earth. The job was eventually 
completed, but it helped to empty the Air Line 

Soon after the cars began to operate between Seattle and Tacoma over the high-speed, 
third-rail Puget Sound Electric Railway in 1902, a train of Brill inter urbans rolled past 
the big totem pole in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Washington State Historical 
Society, from Robert S. Wilson. 



jttv 8. mor,. 

in 1 Hours — Fare $ 1 ( 

One of the Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Electric Entines That W 111 Take a Train to JVeW Yor% in 10 Hours. 

•team roa 

a. it will 

tied" with 
U*f length 

Sly built 
d of the 
- on this 


and uw 

tty BTflet* a 

pari and 

■harg. J 
ery part 
.co that 
the run- 

Port.' Soutl Elkhart, Oosru 

many others, it serves a population of lPn.iKlu 

It has been shi « n Ui it eh eti Ic 
through n re irlon ot this .1, trader 1 IcM a 

gross i mill, ;: r from J] tlT.nup • 

he lowci 
esUmati ol *i'i I- r 1 iplta, th< grm profits 

flK'ir, up to one 1 thi u 

eahd dollars O111 operating expense* will 
not exceed GO p< r <■< nt •>!" the gross receipts, 
and this would leave t,t ... . 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars cii:.o i«»n 
on a section of mad ,»r.l\ one hundrel 
loraj. This_w"nid enable the road to pay 

k .ft- 1 


a tnrh 1. ui wr. ck Its 

1 m tne n ment th< road begins v 

ire of str.ik will be Just 

t 1 «« n n«-yi ft ur> tinxs «« gio.l if 

nought atacrestr.l prices. It will be easy to 

turti I: Into instant cath if you don'i wart 

'• nsportatlon, because any ticket broker 

•1 It at a small <Us<-< unt ror brokerage, 

even In one year from date. vf\ 1. n the first 

humlrtilmilf cctlon of the rood is In actual 

. peratlon between Chicago and Goshen. 


. 'In 


value of the stoek n'nd bond __ 
railroads In the United States umounti 
about fourteen billion dollira. whloh la a 
ope-clghth of all the weakh c f the cuur 



■■ SO LOW. 

Railroad forturxeare th» greatest fbrrt 

on earth. The awn th«t piled up uotcld 

llonn by raUrowd Investments «m iwn 

Electric locomotives such as these, claimed promoters of the Chicago-New York Electric Air 
Line Railroad, would travel between the two cities in 10 hours at speeds up to 100 miles per 
hour. The Air Line, which proved to be anything but the "proposition nith every element of 
risk absolutely done away with" claimed in an early prospectus, was the greatest fiasco of the 
inter urban era. 

treasury and to exhaust the stockholders' patience. 

Throughout the life of the Air Line project, stock- 
holder interest was sustained and additional con- 
tributions solicited by means of such booster organ- 
izations as the "Kankakee Air Line Stockholders' 
Association of the World," and the monthly Air Line 
News, which dramatized every development in the 
construction work {e.g., "A huge Vulcan steam 
shovel is already on the job, taking big bites out of 
hills that stand in the path of the straight and level 
speedway that is to be the Air Line" ) . 

Despite occasional flops of the magnitude of the 

Air Line fiasco and the far more frequent failures 
of lesser schemes, which normally expired with con- 
siderably less notice, the interurbans grew prodi- 
giously, and seemed destined for a future of unlim- 
ited promise when all America would be laced to- 
gether by a splendid electric network. During those 
golden years of growth and triumph no one could 
have taken seriously the suggestion that many of the 
very same people, and perhaps even the same train 
crews, who attended the gala opening celebrations 
would one day be present for the melancholy de- 
parture of the last car. i 


The Interurban Era 

Bound for a summer outing, a capacity crowd rode this Sheboygan 
Light, Power & Railway Company open car on the company's inter- 
urban line to Elkhart Lake, Wis., about 1909. Trains Collection. 


The Interurban Era 

AN infinitely more impressive and elegant vehicle 
than the urban trolleys from which it evolved, the 
interurban car was an imposing sight as it rumbled 
and worried its way through the traffic of city streets, 
bound for the countryside and the freedom of its 
own private rails. Once free of the city the big cars 
hurried along at exhilarating speeds, swaying and 
"nosing" from side to side on the often uneven 
track. Windows flung open against the warmth of a 
summer's day scooped up the rich odors of the 
countryside, sometimes mingled with the ozone 
smell generated by the electric traction motors or the 
pungent odor of grinding brake shoes as the car 
slowed for a stop. A high-pitched screaming came 
from the traction motors and gears, and the steady 
thump and hiss of the trolley wheel overhead 
was faintly heard. The wheels beat a measured 
rhythm over staggered rail joints, and now and then, 
to the clank of loose fitting switch points and frogs, 
the car lurched through turnouts that led to spurs 
or sidings. Occasionally the air compressor beneath 
the car cut in with its characteristic lung-a-lung-a- 
lutig. The conductor's signal cord, suspended from 
the ceiling, flip-flopped back and forth, and there 
was a muffled creaking from the car's ornate wood- 

At night the powerful headlight knifed through 
the darkness ahead, and when the trolley wire was 
coated with sleet, the countryside was fleetingly 
illuminated with great blue-white flashes every time 
the racing trolley wheel, or "shoe," momentarily 
lost contact with the wire. 

Sealed off in his special compartment at the front, 
the motorman, clad in the cap and pin-striped cover- 
alls of real railroading, busied himself with con- 
troller, brakes, bell, and air horn. The blue-uni- 
formed, brass-buttoned conductor collected the fares, 
chatted amiably with the passengers, and in the 
wintertime, if the car wasn't equipped with electric 
heaters, stoked coal into the hot water heater that 
kept the car comfortably overheated. There was an 

easy informality to interurban travel. Most of the 
train crews knew their regular clientele on a first- 
name basis, and they were not above such homely 
tasks as running a few errands for a housewife along 
the line, or seeing to the safe arrival of an unescorted 
child at his destination. 

The interurban was everyone's conveyance in the 
days before the family car, and it provided far more 
than just the transportation necessities of farmer, 
small-towner, or commercial traveler. Whether for 
business, a family picnic outing, a Sunday excursion 
to town, or simply the thrilling experience of high- 
speed trolleying, almost everyone rode the cars. 

Resourceful interurban entrepreneurs were rarely 
content just to accommodate those who had to travel, 
and many were the ideas employed to lure the public 
aboard. Few lines of importance were without an 
"Electric Park" or its equivalent, located far enough 
from town, of course, to require a trip on the inter- 
urban to get there. Typical was the elaborate park 
that was an integral part of construction plans for 
the Stark Electric Railway, built in northern Ohio 
soon after the turn of the century. A pond that was 
dammed for the line's powerhouse was also stocked 
with fish, and a fleet of rowboats was purchased for 
rental. Playground equipment and a picnic pavilion 
were installed on the edge of the pond, and a dance 
hall was erected in a nearby wood. Provision for ice 
skating on the pond made the park a year-round 
traffic builder for the interurban. 

Any interurban such as the Chicago, Ottawa & 
Peoria, which was fortunate enough to have a 
Chautauqua Park along its route, could count on 
heavy traffic when great crowds thronged to the 
annual camp meeting, which was the occasion for 
addresses by noted orators and lecturers. Other 
lines offered such attractions as beaches, salt water 
plunges, or auto race tracks. 

Another form of traffic development, and per- 
haps the first "park and ride" plan, was tried in 
1910 by the Iowa & Illinois Railway, which operated 


-; \' 71 

/!» amusement park was a sure-fire traffic builder for interurban lines. This was the Lackawan- 
na & Wyoming Valley Railroad's Rocky Glen Park at Moosic, Pa. Edward S. Miller. 

between Clinton and Davenport, la. As a means of 
encouraging farmers to use I&I service, the company 
erected wooden sheds at highway crossings into 
which prospective rural passengers could put their 
horses without charge while taking a trip to one of 
the terminal cities aboard the electric cars. To pro- 
tect against horse thieves, each farmer was expected 
to bring his own padlock. 

Hardly any interurban of consequence failed to 
have one or more handsome parlor cars available for 
charter service, for as an early text on the operation 
of electric railways commented, "The chartered car 
appeals to the feelings of exclusiveness, sense of 
ownership and comfort beloved of most humans." 

The trolley car funeral, said to be "vastly superior 
to a horse-drawn hearse" service, was commonplace 
too in the early years of the century. Special cars, 

equipped to handle caskets and designed to provide 
privacy for the mourners, were usually employed. 
For large funerals a charter car followed along be- 
hind the funeral car with the overflow of mourners. 
Sunday visitors were another source of revenue that 
made a suburban cemetery along the line an asset to 
any interurban. 

Excursion and sight-seeing traffic was intensive- 
ly promoted by the interurbans. The Lake Shore 
Electric Railway in Ohio regularly operated "theater 
specials" into Toledo and Cleveland shortly after 
the turn of the century. A caterer was usually hired 
to serve coffee and a light luncheon aboard the cars 
on the return trip, and on other occasions entertain- 
ment, perhaps by a mandolin club or an "orchestra 
gramophone," was provided. During the '20's the 
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee operated "Grand 


Opera Specials" during the season, and served a 
light supper to opera-goers on the way home. For 
those with less cultured tastes Michigan United 
Railways agents sold round-trip tickets with coupons 
good for cut-rate admission to a circuit of 25-cent 
vaudeville theaters, and the Fort Wayne & Wabash 
Valley did a good business in dancing party specials. 

An Ohio line, the Toledo, Fostoria & Findlay, 
built up its week-end traffic with "Sunday Dinner 
Excursions," offering a free dinner ticket to any 
one of several Findlay restaurants with excursion 
tickets from points 20 or more miles away. 

A number of Midwestern interurbans constructed 
baseball parks to stimulate traffic, and several Ohio 
lines organized leagues among on-line communities. 

The Cleveland & Southwestern Baseball Trolley 
League included six towns reached by the inter- 
urban, and the railway donated a silver cup to the 
winning team, assisted in advertising, and offered 
free rides to the players. One of the line's officers 
even acted as the league president. 

Southern California's Pacific Electric system oper- 
ated what was easily the most extensive excursion 
and sight-seeing business of all. Every attraction of 
consequence was reached by a PE excursion, and for 
the first 20 years or so of the century there just wasn't 
any other way to see Southern California. The 
"Balloon Route Trolley Trip" (a "$10 trip for a 
dollar" ) took tourists out Sunset Boulevard to Hol- 
lywood and the beach cities west of Los Angeles. 


Ik **€,"$ - - .# 



The attractions of 
/Monarch Park, midway 
between Franklin and 
Oil City, Pa., stimu- 
lated traffic aboard the 
electric cars of the Citi- 
zens Traction Com- 
pany. Twice a day the 
Monarch Park Concert 
Band performed at 
the pagoda, and three 
nights a week the Goss- 
Green dance orches- 
tra played under Japa- 
nese lanterns and fake 
palm trees in the dance 
hall. Both Photos: 
Donald K. Slick 

A principal source of income for Utah's Salt Lake, Garfield & Western interurban was excursion 
travel to the company's Saltair resort on Great Salt Lake, where salt-water bathing, boating, 
picnicking, one of the world's largest dance pavilions, and all manner of other diversions 
drew great throngs of pleasure seekers. Both Photos: Fred Fellow Collection. 




rr -v 

■ a : i 

- r *tK * 


Pre-eminent among electric car attractions was Prof. Tbaddeus S. C. Loive's Mount Lowe Rail- 
way, which transported tourists by incline and narrow gauge trolleys close to the summit of Mount 
Lowe, north of Pasadena. This group of early tourists was photographed aboard an "opera seat" car 
near the top of the Great Cable Incline. Echo Mountain House, risible in the background, was one 
of four hotels operated by the railway. Historical Collections, Security First National Bank, 
Los Angeles. 

Ohio's Lake Shore Electric Railway did an extensive pleasure travel 
business to the many Lake Erie resorts along its line between Cleve- 
land and Toledo. This line-up of interurbans transported a -i-H Club group 
to Sandusky, where the excursionists transferred to steamers for the offshore 
Cedar Point resort. The company offered reduced party and special car rates for 
"lodges, secret societies, or any other group." Richard Cook Collection. 



With its smartly uniformed 
motorman, conductor, and porter 
lined up at attention, the North- 
ern Ohio Traction & Light Com- 
pany's magnificent parlor-ob- 
servation car Northern ivas all 
set for official duties or special 
charter service. Stephen D. 
Maguire Collection. 

These three carloads of 
Southern California tourists 
visited the Hollywood resi- 
dence and art gallery of 
painter Paul de Longpre in 
1905, on the Los Angeles 
Pacific's famous "Balloon 
Route Trolley Trip." Head- 
ing the line was No. 400 — 
the flagship of LAP's excur- 
sion car fleet — which was ap- 
propriately finished in royal 
blue and fitted with electric 
outline lighting. Historical 
Collections, Security First 
National Bank, Los Angeles. 

Among the many attractions were a visit to the 
Hollywood studio of world-famous painter Paul de 
Longpre, a stop at Santa Monica's Camera Obscura, 
and a visit to Venice, which then boasted genuine 
canals and gondolas. 

The "Orange Empire Trolley Trip" carried trolley 
excursionists on a 150-mile tour of the San Ber- 
nardino County citrus areas, and the "Triangle 
Trolley Trip" offered a look at the beach cities south 
of Los Angeles. The "Catalina Special" provided 
boat train service to the docks at Wilmington, where 
a connection was made with the Avalon steamer 
service. In earlier years excursions were operated 
to the Ostrich Farm, near San Gabriel, and to E. J. 
"Lucky" Baldwin's ranch. 

The greatest of all PE's attractions was the famed 
Mount Lowe line, the "Greatest Mountain Trolley 
Trip in the World," which carried tourists, by 
means of the Great Cable Incline and the narrow- 
gauge Alpine Division, to Alpine Tavern, 1100 
feet below the summit of the mountain. Three other 
hotels, hiking trails and bridle paths, a zoo, a 

Holiday-bound for the neighboring Bamberger 
Railroad's Lagoon amusement park, a mid-' 20' s em- 
ployees' excursion from a Utah packing plant rode 
eight well-filled interurban cars behind a Salt Lake & 
Utah freight locomotive. Fred Fellow Collection. 


■p — > ' 

■ " it=i SHS 

i ■ffiiilj jtm f-Xl- 


Varied indeed was the entertainment 
and recreation available to Redondo 
Beach (Calif.) excursionists, most of 
whom arrived aboard the electric cars 
of Henry E. Huntington's Los Ange- 
les & Redondo Railway, which became 
part of the Pacific Electric Railway 
in the Great Merger of 1911. Visi- 
tors to the Redondo Pavilion were 
treated to such distinguished artists 
as famed contralto Mme. Ernestine 
Schumann-Heink, seen here playing 
the trumpet, accompanied by the 
Redondo Band, during a 1909 visit. 
Ira L. Swett — Magna Collection. 

museum, and an observatory were numbered among 
the Mount Lowe line's attractions. 

Pacific Electric left no stone unturned in its ex- 
cursion business promotion. A general agent was 
located in New York, and traveling passenger agents 
met special trains as far east as Salt Lake City and 
Albuquerque. Around 1910 PE was dispatching as 
many as 80 excursion cars hourly from its Los 

Angeles terminal, and the popular Balloon Route 
trip alone was hauling anywhere from 60,000 to 
75,000 passengers a year. 

The Washington-Virginia Railway, which oper- 
ated to Alexandria and Mount Vernon, was an- 
other line that enjoyed an extensive excursion busi- 
ness. National magazine and newspaper advertising 
was employed, and the line's agents actively solicited 


Redondo attractions included beaches, fishing piers, a casino, 
and a skating rink. Well-heeled visitors stopped at the Hotel 
Redondo (far left), a rambling and ornate resort hostelry 
typical of the leisurely pre-motel era. Along with the 
shore-hugging railway, the better part of Redondo Beach 
resort facilities and much of the town itself were the property 
of Mr. Huntington. Ira L. Swett — Magna Collection. 

In 1909 Huntington completed the huge Redondo Plunge, which boasted three 
heated salt water pools. The main pool, shown here, was the largest indoor salt 
water pool in the world. Ira L. Swett — Magna Collection. 

tour traffic from high schools and other groups. 
Package tours to the nation's capital were offered, 
which included, naturally, a special interurban out- 
ing to Mount Vernon, complete with a guide and 
lecturer. Such intensive promotion increased the 
line's tour business from 5000 a year in 1921 to 
60,000 annually only five years later. 

Many other lines favored with points of historical 
interest developed traffic by distributing handy 
guides to prospective trolley sight-seers. One such 
publication, Wayside Scenes, distributed by the 
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Railway, pictured 
— in addition to bona fide historical spots — such 
establishments as a Doylestown steam laundry and 
the "handsomest bar in the Lehigh Valley" at the 
Lafayette Cafe in Easton, both of which undoubtedly 
paid for the privilege. The West Penn Railways, 
which didn't have any particular attractions to offer 
excursionists, simply advised its patrons of the 
healthful and relaxing benefits of ordinary, every- 
day trolleying and suggested to them that they try a 
quiet ride on a West Penn car after a hard day's 
work as "a tonic that fits one better for the battle 

of life that must be taken up the following day." 
Trolley excursion travel was cheap, too. Excursion 
rates as low as 1 cent a mile were common in Ohio 
and Indiana, and one line, the Indianapolis & Cin- 
cinnati Traction Company, was carrying Sunday ex- 
cursionists for only V3 cent a mile in 1910. In 1927 
the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway was selling 
a $1 Sunday excursion ticket good for unlimited 
travel over its 650 miles of track in the Boston area. 
Trolley vacationing became fashionable too in 
the regions where the interurban networks were all 
encompassing. The Trolley Wayfinder, published 
by the New England Street Railway Club, and 
dozens of similar volumes made trolley touring 
particularly popular in the New England states. 
The Brooklyn Eagle published an annual Trolley 
Exploring Guide which outlined everything from 
Sunday jaunts through the suburbs to journeys that 
took the trolley vacationer as far away as Washing- 
ton, Boston, or Chicago. A similar Interurban Trol- 
ley Guide, published annually in Chicago, made 
vacationing on the electric cars easy for Midwest- 


"When it comes to cheap, irresponsible, and satis- 
factory recreation," proclaimed an article in World's 
Work in 1903, "the trolley is certainly the very best 

The Albany Southern, which operated through 
a favorite summer vacation area along the upper 
Hudson, published a widely circulated directory 
of summer hotels and boarding houses, a list of 
farms, cottages and tenting sites for rent, and real 
estate for sale. Several other upstate New York 
lines operated tenting grounds and cottage colonies 
in resort areas. The Pittsburgh & Butler Street 
Railway published the popular Summer Boarding 
and Tent Life on the Butler Short Line. 

The leisurely, long-distance trolley vacation be- 
came popular soon after the turn of the century. Sus- 
tained travel was not the thing for the trolley vaca- 
tioner, for the frequent service offered by the electric 
cars made it convenient to stop over at the many his- 
torical sites and scenic attractions along the way. The 
New York-Boston trolley tour early became a popu- 
lar outing, and there were as many as four different 
possible routings over some parts of the trip. In 
1904, according to World's Work, it was possible 
to make the trip in just two days by "hard and 

steady electric travel" at a cost of only S3. 28 in fares. 
A few years later the Old Colony Street Railway 
Company was offering an even more economical 
overnight trolley-steamer service at a cost of only 
$1.75. Travelers boarded the cars at Post Office 
Square in Boston for the trip to Fall River, where 
they transferred to steamers for the overnight run 
to New York. 

To publicize Boston-New York trolleying, the 
Bay State Street Railway fitted out one of its cars 
with wicker lounge chairs in 1914 and took a party 
of electric railway officials and 25 newspapermen on 
a leisurely two-day junket between the two cities, 
stopping at New London for the night. 

Even more lengthy trolley journeys along the East 
Coast were possible. The electric excursionist could 
venture as far south as New Castle, Del., and north 
to the suburbs of Waterville, Me., on an un- 
broken interurban network. In A Trolley Honey- 
moon, published in 1904, Clinton W. Lucas de- 
scribed a 500-mile, 11-day honeymoon trip on which 
he took his bride from Wilmington, Del., to York 
Beach, Me. 

The New York-Chicago trolley tour, often out- 
lined in the various trolley guides for the "enthus- 


Here the same portly chief executive is seen greet- 
ing a crowd at Hollywood during a 1911 tour 

over the Los Angeles Pacific aboard the company's 
premier private car El Viento. Title Insur- 
ance and Trust Company, Los Angeles. 

Along with the common folk, presidents and 
would-be presidents rode the electric cars. Proudly 
displaying white flags and the presidential seal, 
this gleaming special train, made up of office cat- 
No. 233 and the matching observation trailer 
Champaign, transported Pres. William 
Howard Taft over the Illinois Traction System 
in 1911 as the guest of company president and 
U. S. Congressman William B. McKinley. Lunch 
was served aboard the cars during the 1 Vl-hour 
trip from Decatur to Springfield, for which 
elaborate safety precautions were taken. Op- 
posing train movements were stopped, switches 
were spiked, flagmen were stationed at every 
highway crossing, and a pilot train preceded the 
special by 10 minutes. 

During the 1912 campaign three-time-loser 
William Jennings Bryan addressed a crowd at 
Van Wert, O., from the steps of an Ohio Llectric 
Railway interurban while campaigning for 
Woodrow Wilson. John A. Rehor Collection. 


iastic trolley tourist," was of such a time-consuming 
and arduous nature that it was hardly calculated to 
cause undue concern on the part of steam railway 
officials, and was probably more talked about than 
actually experienced. In 1910 E. C. Van Valken- 
burgh, in a trip recounted for Electric Railway 
Journal readers, spent just short of four weeks and 
covered 1643 miles in what was described as a 
"leisurely outing" between the two cities. Without 
side trips the entire journey, covering some 1163 
miles, was then possible in 45 to 50 hours of contin- 
uous trolley riding, or in a week's time by daylight 
travel, at a cost of less than $20. "A better way of 
seeing the country at reasonable cost would be hard 
to imagine," advised Van Valkenburgh. 

Five years later, as outlined in the 1915 Inter- 
urban Trolley Guide, the trip took anywhere from 

31 to 45 hours of actual trolley riding, depending 
upon connections, and covered 23 different electric 

The entire journey between the two cities was 
never actually possible by trolley. The most direct 
route required the use of steam railroads between 
Tarrytown and Hudson, N. Y., and again between 
Little Falls and Fonda, a total of some 120 miles by 
steam. A more circuitous routing through Connecti- 
cut and Massachusetts, which was possible for a 
period of only about two years around 1917-1918, 
reduced the necessary steam mileage to about 55. 

The practicality of long-distance trolley travel 
was convincingly demonstrated in 1910 by the 2000- 
mile "Utica (N. Y. ) Electric Railway Tour." A 
Utica-Syracuse interurban car, fitted with lounge 
furniture and provided with a porter to attend to the 

The practicality of sustained interurban travel was demonstrated 
by several Indianapolis Trade Association "Booster's Specials," 
which traveled throughout Indiana to promote the city. This 
one, made up of chartered Indiana Union Traction Company 
equipment, was photographed at South Bend in 1910. The most 
extensive of all such junkets, however, was the 14-day, 2000- 
mile /Midwestern tour made the same year by a group of 
Utica (N. Y.) "Boosters." George Krambles Collection. 

In a time of unhurried travel, combination interurban-steamer through 

routings were sometimes available. This Inland Empire System express 

from Spokane, Wash., made a dockside connection at Coeur d'Alene, Ida., 

with steamers of the Red Collar Line, which offered service to points on 

Coeur d'Alene Lake and the St. Joe River. LeRoy O. King Jr. 



comforts of the 26 "Utica Boosters," was used 
throughout the excursion, which spread the news of 
Utica's business and industrial advantages through 
six states to points as far west as Indianapolis and 
Detroit. When the boosters returned 14 days later 
they were met by a band at the edge of town, and a 
triumphant parade of pedestrians, streetcars, wagons, 
and automobiles followed the interurban car down 
Genesee Street to Bagg's Hotel, where all adjourned 
for a banquet and speeches. 

Throughout the electric railway era interurban 
travel was predominantly of the short-haul, local 
variety, and during the early years it was exclusively 
so. But soon after the turn of the century, as some 
of the traction systems assumed substantial dimen- 
sions and an interconnecting network of traction 
lines spread across many states, particularly in the 

Midwest, interurban traffic men began to develop 
an interest in the long-distance passenger. Special 
mileage coupon books good for travel over any line, 
issued by many Midwestern lines, made long- 
distance interurban travel inexpensive. The Central 
Electric Railroad Association, for example, sold a 
coupon book for S17.50 that was good for S20 worth 
of fares over any of its member Midwestern 

Sometimes the interurbans developed a long- 
distance business between important points by oper- 
ating through cars over the rails of two or more 
connecting lines. Perhaps the first such invasion 
of the steam roads' long-haul market was the de luxe 
Indianapolis-Dayton Interstate Limited service in- 
augurated in 1905 by the Dayton & Western, the 
Richmond Street & Interurban Railway, and the 


Indianapolis & Eastern. Special cars built for the 
service featured plush parlor seats and heavy Wilton 
carpeting in the main compartment, while the 
smoking section was fitted with leather upholstered 
seats and inlaid linoleum floors. The interior was 
finished in St. Jago mahogany with "inlaid decora- 
tions of the most recent design." A buffet between 
the two compartments served light meals from a 
menu said to be every bit the equal of those on 
Pullman buffet cars. Such de luxe interurban serv- 
ice, it was predicted, would soon become common 
between points as far as 200 to 300 miles apart. 

Occasionally, when direct electric routings all 
the way were not available, the interurbans joined 
with other carriers in long-distance through rout- 
ings. In 1915 the Fort Wayne & Northern Indiana 

"Motorman" was by far the most popular title 
for interurban car operators, but a few lines fa- 
vored the steam railroads' more pretentious "engi- 
neer," and at least one line, the Puget Sound 
Electric, compromised on the title "motorneer." 
In French Canada he was sometimes a "garde 
moteur" and in Cuba (here) a "motorista." 
William D. Middleton. 

was selling through tickets all the way to St. Louis, 
routed over its own line and the Clover Leaf System, 
one of the few Midwestern steam railroads that 
would have anything to do with the interurbans. 
Quite a few years later the Dayton & Western, in 
company with the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & 
Eastern, was bidding for Dayton-Chicago business 
with a through-car routing to Indianapolis, where a 
steam railroad connection was made. 

In 1910 the Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muske- 
gon Railway and the Grand Rapids, Holland & 
Chicago Railway were offering through service to 
Milwaukee and Chicago via steamer connections 
at their western terminals. On the West Coast the 
California Navigation & Improvement Company 
and the Central California Traction Company were 
offering the same sort of combination between 
San Francisco and Lodi with a through routing that 
involved steamers from San Francisco to Stockton, 
where passengers transferred to the electric cars for 
the final leg of the trip. 

In 1927 the Chicago South Shore & South Bend 
was offering a Chicago-Detroit "Golden Arrow" 
service in conjunction with the Shore Line Motor 
Coach Company. A limited train took passengers as 
far as South Bend, where they transferred to a non- 
stop bus, complete with toilet facilities and an 
observation compartment, for the remainder of the 
journey. The combination cut a full 3 hours from 
the all-bus routing between the two cities. 

A year later the Cleveland Southwestern Rail- 
way & Light Company began selling through in- 
terurban-air tickets to Detroit from points along its 
lines. Passengers transferred from the trolleys to 
Ford trimotors of the Cleveland-Detroit Air Line at 
the Cleveland airport, which was conveniently lo- 
cated beside the interurban's line into the city. 

As the long-distance passenger business became 
more important the larger interurban systems en- 
deavored to provide luxury services that were equal 
to, or even better than, those offered by the steam 
railroads. Parlor cars, heavily carpeted, lavishly 
decorated, and staffed with porters, were frequently 
installed on the long runs. Light meals were served 
from buffet sections on many of them, and several 
lines operated full dining cars. A few of the longest 
interurbans even introduced sleeping car service. 

Bearing such dashing names as Liberty Bell 
Limited, Dixie Flyer, and Meteor, de luxe interurban 
limiteds sped imperiously through the rolling hills 
of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, Hoosier 
farmland, and California canyon alike, transporting 
passengers in princely comfort on their errands of 

Surely the electric way was the very best way to 
travel, i 


In the earlier years of the interurban era, two-man crews of motorman and conductor were almost 
universal, and sometimes interurban lines patterned their operating rules after those of steam rail- 
roading. Among these was Iowa's Fort Dodge Line, which even as late as 7 95 5 still went about the 
fob of running electric cars in the traditional manner. Here conductor F. E. N unamaker passes up a 
clearance card from the operator at Fort Dodge to motorman E. J. Berg before their departure with 
southbound train No. 2 for Des Moines. Both wore the respective blue serge uniform and overalls 
of their occupations. William D. Middleton. 


The Interurban Car 


Separated by 30 years of progress, these two interurbans bore little resemblance to 
one another although they served similar purposes in their respective eras. Mag- 
nificent wooden 302 was built by Niles in 1907 for the Washington, Baltimore & 
Annapolis and later was sold to the Rock Island Southern. The Key System artic- 
ulated unit, in purposeful 1938 styling, covered interurbanlike routes east of San 
Francisco, yet had automatic cab signals for rush-hour operation on 1 -minute head- 
way over the 1-mile fog-shrouded Bay Bridge. William D. Middleton Collec- 
tion (Left); Richard Steinheimer (Above). 


The Interurban Car 

-DORN of an age which took joy in lavish orna- 
mentation, the interurban car of the early years was 
a splendid sight. The very first cars were little dif- 
ferent from the prosaic streetcars from which they 
evolved, but the skilled craftsmen who fashioned the 
big electric cars, with the instinctive sense of balance 
and proportion common to artisans of their kind, 
soon developed an altogether distinctive interurban 
car architecture. 

With the exception of the shorter length dictated 
by operation through city streets, the dimensions of 
the interurbans were more like those of steam cars 
than those of the city streetcars. Interurban cars 
were usually anywhere from 50 to 60 feet long, al- 
though cars over 70 feet in length were built for a 
few lines. Car width was often restricted by the 
width of the "devil strip" between double tracks of 
street railway properties. For the 4-foot devil strip 
found in a majority of cities a car width of 8'4" was 
usually standard, but where clearances allowed, cars 
were often built to widths equal to steam railroad 
standards. Interurban cars were frequently designed 
for double end operation, with controls at each end 
and reversible seating, which enabled quick turn- 
arounds without the necessity for loops or wyes. 
Usually, however, interurban operators favored the 
single end car, which permitted better interior ar- 
rangement, eliminated the cost of duplicate controls 
and fenders, and enabled the use of less expensive 
nonreversible seating. 

Early car construction was invariably of wood 
and was aptly described as "house-upon-a-flat-car" 
construction. Heavy timber sills provided the entire 
structural support, and the carbody simply rested 
on the sills. As cars became too long and heavy to 
be supported by the wood sills alone, steel truss rods 
and queen posts were added under the car. Large 

turnbuckles made it possible to restore the car to 
level after it began to sag with the strains of age and 
service. Some master mechanics even preferred to 
send a car away from a visit to the shops with a 
slight arch to its back. 

The clerestory "railroad" roof of steam road prac- 
tice, which provided good ventilation, was widely 
favored by interurban lines, although some roads 
later adopted a high arch roof when satisfactory 
ventilators were developed. The necessity for opera- 
tion of interurban trains around sharp curves re- 
quired the adoption of long radius couplings and 
rounded ends, which resulted in a far more pleasing 
appearance than the flat ends of steam road cars. 
The almost universal use of "Gothic" arched 
windows, fitted with what was variously described 
as "art" or "cathedral" leaded glass upper panels, 
gave a dash of elegance to any interurban. So 
highly regarded was the arch window, in fact, that 
even later, when some interurbans adopted rectangu- 
lar, clear glass upper panels — which furnished bet- 
ter interior illumination — a fake arch top, visible 
only from the outside, was installed above the upper 
panel in place of the usual letter board. This varia- 
tion was known as the "Washington" sash after it 
was first used on an order of cars for the Washington 
Railway & Electric Company. 

The durable, dark "Pullman green" finish of 
steam railroad practice was favored by many inter- 
urban roads, but many others felt that the extra cost 
of less serviceable but brighter colors was good ad- 
vertising. Lighter colors also afforded better visi- 
bility of approaching electric cars. A variety of red, 
orange, yellow, blue, and green hues were com- 
monly used, and many lines were widely known by 
the distinctive colors of their equipment. Interur- 
ban cars were usually assigned numbers, and most 


The zenith of wooden interurban car architecture was represented by the equipment delivered in 1911 
by the Cincinnati Car Company for the Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation's Galveston-Houston 
Electric Railway. This car is seen in the blue and white "bluebird" colors worn during the '20's, when 
the Galveston Flyer won honors as America's fastest interurban. George Krambles Collection. 

lines gave names only to their more elegant parlor, 
sleeping, and dining cars. There were occasional 
exceptions. A few lines named their cars after on- 
line communities or famous local personages. Port- 
land's East Side Railway gave its cars girls' names 
such as Ava, Helen, and Flora; and Maine's Portland- 
Lewiston Interurban named all its cars after flowers. 
Interurban car interiors were usually divided into 
a smoking section and a nonsmoking compartment, 
sometimes referred to as the "ladies' parlor"; and 
most of them had a baggage and express compart- 
ment, often fitted with folding wooden seats or camp 
stools for overflow crowds. The carbuilders lavished 
their greatest efforts on fanciful decorative effects 
for the car interiors. Fine woods of every descrip- 
tion were employed. Ash, cherry, quartered oak, 
California redwood, basswood, maple, and birch 
were all popular. Mahoganies were imported from 
Tobago, Mexico, the African Gold Coast, and South 
and Central America; and teakwood came from 
India, China, and the Philippines. When excep- 
tional beauty and richness of finish were desired, 
vermilion — a heavy, hard-to-work wood of the 
mahogany family — was used. For particularly 
handsome effects the dark woods were often inlaid 
with white holly; and complex color schemes, artis- 
tic moldings, and intricate carvings were provided. 

Plush upholstery was commonly employed in the 
main compartment, and the more elegant cars were 
fitted with heavy draperies and thick carpeting. 
More durable and easily cleaned materials, such as 
leather or cane upholstery and linoleum flooring, 
were favored for the smoking compartments, where 
the rougher element customarily rode. Interurbans 
usually had lavatories, and such other extras as 
water coolers, mirrors, and electric fans. Match 
scratchers and polished brass spittoons were pro- 
vided for the smoker clientele, and heavy ornamental 
bronze was liberally used for luggage racks, light 
fixtures, hardware, and other trimmings. 

With the arrival of balmy summer weather some 
interurbans rolled out their special open cars. Wide- 
ly used in New England and California, the open car 
enjoyed a more limited popularity on interurban 
lines elsewhere in the U.S. The most common type 
of open car was fitted with benches running the full 
width of the car and continuous running boards, 
so that it could be boarded at any point. Conductors 
had to negotiate the running boards to collect fares. 
Waterproof awnings were lowered in case of rain. 

The open car was a delight to ride on a hot sum- 
mer night; nevertheless, it had its disadvantages. 
Women found it almost impossible to climb aboard 
the standard single-step open car after the hobble 


The impressive dimensions of the WB&A's Niles "Electric Pullmans" are evident in 
a broadside study. The big cars regularly clocked 66-mile-per-hour average speeds 
once they got out of town. LeRoy O. King Collection. 

skirt became fashionable. J. G. Brill, a leading car- 
builder, came up with the Narragansett car, a 
patented two-step design, as an answer to this prob- 
lem. Boarding and alighting accidents were al- 
together too frequent on open cars, and the prospect 
of a passenger inadvertently "joining the birds'* in 
high-speed interurban operation probably kept more 
than one traction official awake nights. Some lines 
solved the problem by providing standard center 
aisles and vestibules, and screening in the lower 
part of the sides. 

On the West Coast, where weather was subject 
to year-around vagaries, the "combination," or 
"semi-open," type of car was often adopted, pre- 
sumably in an effort to please everyone. One end 

of the car was constructed as an ordinary closed car, 
while the other was an open section. Usually, it was 
found, everyone wanted to ride in the same end, 
depending upon the weather. An earlier variation of 
the combination type was the California car, which 
had a closed center section and an open section at 
each end. 

Traction companies found the provision of a 
duplicate set of equipment for summer operation 
a costly proposition. An early effort to develop 
a type of car adaptable to year-around operation was 
the "convertible" car (or "nonhibernating" car, 
as one builder described it), which could be trans- 
formed from a closed to an open car by the use of 
removable side panels. More widely used was the 

This Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company interurban was constructed with the "Washington" 
sash, an arrangement which employed clear glass upper sash for improved interior illumination but 
retained the class of "Gothic" window design with dummy art glass arches in place of the customary 
letter board. O. F. Lee Collection. 



" '.,■- 

Glistening in fresh varnish, 
a line-up of brand-new 
interurbans all ready for de- 
livery to the Peoria Railway 
Terminal Company was 
photographed outside 
the Paris (III.) plant of 
builder McGuire-Cum- 
mings. Charles Goethe 

The distinctive architecture of the interurban car had not yet been evolved when J. G. Brill delivered this 
deck roof car for service on the Washington, Alexandria & Mt. Vernon Railway's new line to Alexandria 
in 1896. Nevertheless, the car was equipped with such interurban features as train doors for passage between 
cars, a lavatory, and a water cooler. It was capable of hauling one or two trailers at speeds up to 45 miles 
per hour. This carload of dour individuals, probably Brill factory workers, simulated passengers for an ad- 
vertisement that appeared in the February 1H')6 Street Railway Journal. LeRoy O. King Collection. 

"semi-convertible" car, which had window sash that 
disappeared into either wall or roof pockets for 
summer operation, while the side panels remained 
fixed in place. The J. G. Brill Company, which de- 
veloped its patented roof pocket semi-convertible 
system in 1899, pointed out in some early hard-sell 
advertising that the wall pockets used by other 
builders often became rubbish receptacles and were 
a dangerous breeding place for germs; one instance 

was detailed in which a carelessly discarded cigar 
had started a fire in a wall pocket. 

The interurbans' strength was their ability to 
furnish an economical short-haul passenger service, 
a fact which was reflected in the durably furnished 
coaches that predominated in electric line equip- 
ment rosters. But as the interurbans began to edge 
into the long-distance luxury travel field in the 
years following the turn of the century, more 


lavishly furnished equipment was frequently seen. 
Carpeted parlor cars fitted with cushioned wicker 
lounge chairs were often provided for the long- 
distance limited runs, and in the Midwest and West 
the open observation platform, complete with brass 
railing, scalloped awning, and a drumhead sign 
bearing the road's emblem or train name, frequently 
appeared on the premier interurban schedules, in 
the manner of the best steam railroad limited trains 
of the time. 

An early example of the ornate parlor cars often 
maintained for charter service was the pretentiously 
titled "drawing room car" that was available in 1906 
to transport the elite over the 25-mile Augusta- 
Aiken Railway & Electric Company in Georgia. 
The car's interior was fitted with handsome rugs, 

Typical of the summer cars operated hi 

great numbers by street railways and in- 

terurbans was this 1-t-bencb open car 

built by Jackson & Sharp in 1900 for the 

Philadelphia & West Chester Traction 

Company. Philadelphia Suburban 

Transportation Company. 

Designed to please everyone in the variable California climate, semi-open cars similar to this one ranged 
by the hundreds over the rails of Pacific Electric and other California interurbans. Later on, the 
open section on these PE cars was enclosed up to the belt rail and eventually was closed entirely. 
Visible in the photograph is the pneumatic trolley base favored by PE over the usual spring base. 
Ira Swett — Magna Collection. 

An interior view of a more severely 
furnished Youngstown & Southern Rail- 
way Niles combine clearly shows such 
typical electric car appurtenances as the 
conductor's fare register and the coal- 
fired stove that fed hot water to the 
heating system. O. F. Lee Collection. 

Interior appointments of this car, built by Brill in 
1907 for the West Shore Railroad's Vtica-Syracuse 
electrification, were typical of the early interurbans. 
The walkover seats were upholstered in figured 
plush, and the interior was finished in inlaid mahog- 
any. The carbuilder's fanciful decorative touch was 
evident in the embellishments applied to the full 
Empire ceiling and the elaborate baggage racks. 
Industrial Photo Service. 


Built by Brill in 1907 for the Inland Empire System, 
this early parlor car was ostentatious in the extreme, 
with its plush-upholstered wicker arm chairs and 
heavy, patterned carpeting. The full Empire ceil- 
ing was tinted Nile green, and vermilion wood was 
used for the interior finish. Windows employed 
the patented Brill semi-convertible system, which 
permitted the sash to be raised into pockets between 
the roof and ceiling for summer operation. 
LeRoy O. King Jr. Collection. 

During the late '20's the Milwaukee Elec- 
tee's Cold Spring shops manufactured two 
of these articulated coach-diner units, which 
operated three times daily in a through 
service from Kenosha to Watertoivn via 
Milwaukee. Modestly priced table d'hote 
and a la carte meals were prepared in an all- 
electric kitchen. After suffering heavy 
losses, the company rebuilt the diners into 
straight coaches a few years later. George 
Krambles Collection. 

In later years parlor car interiors became more 
restrained in their decoration, if no less luxurious. 
Milwaukee Northern car 99 was rebuilt by com- 
pany shops in 1923 from a former funeral car for a 
new high-speed, extra-fare Milwaukee-Sheboygan 
service. George Krambles Collection. 

Samuel lnsull's rebuilding of the South Shore line 
during the '20's included such Pullman-built luxury 
equipment as diners and parlor-observation cars for 
limited name train service. In its interior furnishings 
this solarium-observation car was indistinguishable 
from the finest contemporary steam railroad equip- 
ment. George Krambles Collection. 

plush-cushioned parlor chairs, and silk draperies, all 
done in harmonious shades of blue. The interior 
finish was of richly carved and inlaid mahogany, 
and the ceiling was tinted a delicate robin's egg 
blue. The Lewiston, Augusta & Waterville Street 
Railway, in Maine, offered the special parlor- 
observation car Merrymeeting to charter parties at 
a cost of $7 an hour. The car seated 35 in plush- 
upholstered wicker chairs, had an observation plat- 
form at each end, and was equipped with a re- 

frigerator and an electric outline lighting system. 

In 1930 the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern 
converted a former business car for charter opera- 
tion. Requiring a minimum of 25 full fares, the big 
car came equipped with a complete galley and 
pantry, linen and tableware, a library nook, and 
observation compartments at each end with circular 
glass windows reaching almost to the floor; and a 
uniformed porter was included in the crew. 

Often buffet or dining car service was offered on 


1 I T 




If "J. .< 

the longer interurban limited runs. All three of the 
major interurbans radiating from Chicago offered 
dining service, and the inauguration of through 
service to the Loop by the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago 
in 1905 was marked with a lavish dining car lunch- 
eon for distinguished guests of the company's 
officials. The group boarded the car at the Loop 
elevated terminal and was served an elaborate eight- 
course meal while they toured the system. Com- 
mented Street Railway Journal: "Had it been served 
in the evening at a downtown restaurant, followed 
by after dinner speaking, it would have been called 
a banquet." Dining car service was considered par- 

ticularly advantageous by the AE&C since it per- 
mitted Chicago businessmen to leave their desks at 
noon or 1 p.m. and lunch on the way to the Wheaton 
golf clubs. 

Two of the finest interurban diners ever con- 
structed were placed in service by the Interstate 
Public Service Company in 1926 on its Indianapolis- 
Louisville Dixie and Hoosier Flyers. Costing 
S3 5,000 each, the cars were fitted out as combination 
club, observation, and dining cars. Seats were up- 
holstered in soft Spanish leather, and the interior 
was trimmed in African mahogany. Portable tables 
were provided for meal service, and an all-electric 


The Holland Palace Car Company hoped to revolutionize 
the long-distance interurban business with a com- 
bination design that converted from parlor to sleep- 
ing car through the use of rolling partitions. Only 
two of them were ever built. Stephen D. Maguire 
Collection (Above); George Krambles Col- 
lection (Right). 

Officers of the Everett-Moore syndicate, which controlled a number of interurbans in Ohio, 
Michigan, and other /Midwestern states, rode over their Cleveland area holdings in regal 
style aboard the private drawing room car Josephine, which included two observation 
compartments, a stateroom, bathroom, kitchen, and a stenographer's office among its ac- 
commodations. Only a few years after delivery by the J. G. Brill Company the Josephine 
came to an untimely end in a spectacular fire. George Krambles Collection. 

kitchen prepared food for a menu said to be almost 
as extensive as that of a large hotel. 

In 1903 a new company, the Holland Palace Car 
Company, which hoped to occupy a position in the 
electric railway industry comparable to that of the 
Pullman Company in steam railroading, appeared 
on the scene with a pair of ingenious combination 
cars, the Theodore and the Francis, that converted 
from parlor car by day to sleeping car at night 
through the use of rolling partitions. First tried 
on the 64-mile run between Columbus and Zanes- 
ville, O., too short to make use of the sleeping car 
feature, the two cars were later placed in overnight 
service on the Illinois Traction System. 

Although the Holland cars were considered un- 
satisfactory, owing principally to excessive noise and 
vibration from the power trucks, Illinois Traction's 
sleeper service drew considerable interest, and in 
1910 the company placed new sleepers of its own 
design in service over the 172-mile St. Louis-Peoria 
main line. The noise problem of the Holland cars 
was eliminated by operating the new cars as trailers. 

In a time before air conditioning, cinder-free 

electric sleeper service offered distinct advantages 
over steam railroad Pullmans, and Illinois Trac- 
tion's new sleeping car accommodations were equal 
or superior to those of Pullman cars in almost every 
respect. Berths in the electric sleepers were fully 
6 inches longer than in standard Pullmans, and the 
cars featured windows for upper berth passengers, 
an innovation that didn't appear on the steam rail- 
roads until two decades later. A reading lamp and a 
plush-lined, fireproof safety deposit box were in- 
stalled in every berth. Porters on the cars served 
hot coffee and rolls without charge in the morning. 
Interurban sleeper travel was cheap, too. Uppers 
and lowers cost only $1 and $1.25, respectively, and 
porters were not allowed to accept tips. Later 
Illinois Traction sleeping car innovations included 
air conditioning and all-room sleepers. 

Few other interurbans ever ventured into the 
sleeping car business. The Oregon Electric Railway 
operated sleepers between Portland and Eugene for 
a few years, and the Interstate Public Service Com- 
pany introduced an Indianapolis-Louisville service 
in 1926 with a group of handsome steel cars. The 


The Oregon Electric Railway employed a pair of these Barney & Smith sleepers, built 
along conventional lines, in a Portland-Eugene service for several years before selling 
them to the Pacific Great Eastern steam line in British Columbia, where they continued to 
operate until recent years. Arthur D. Dubin Collection. 


Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern line in Iowa, al- 
though it never had sleepers of its own, once hauled 
Pullman cars from Waterloo to Cedar Rapids, where 
they were attached to Chicago-bound trains of the 
Chicago & North Western. 

Occasionally the officials of some of the larger 
traction systems operated handsome private cars, 
which often rivaled the rolling stock of steam 
road contemporaries in the luxury of their equip- 
ment and furnishings. Probably the most magnifi- 
cent interurban of the entire traction era was the 
private car Alabama, which the St. Louis Car Com- 
pany turned out in 1905 for Southern California 
traction magnate Henry E. Huntington. Almost as 
large as a Pullman car, the 63-foot Alabama weighed 
103,000 pounds and was driven by four 200-horse- 
power motors. The Alabama was the most power- 
ful, and one of the fastest, interurbans ever built; 
it was capable of speeds approaching 100 miles 
per hour, and once covered the 20 miles between 
Los Angeles and Long Beach in 15 minutes, an 
average speed of 80 miles per hour. The big car 
could be coupled into any steam train, and Hunting- 
ton used it for trips throughout the U.S., as well 
as over his own Pacific Electric system. The 
Alabama's interior was finished in figured African 
mahogany, with inlay work and carvings for decora- 
tion, and the two staterooms were fitted with figured 
Prima Vera silk shades. A dining room, with places 
for 10, buffet, china closet, and a genuine fireplace, 
was located at one end of the car, and an observation 
compartment with a built-in jardiniere was installed 
at the opposite end. 

After relinquishing active control of his traction 
empire, Huntington sold the Alabama to the Sacra- 
mento Northern Railroad for service as a de luxe 
parlor-buffet car. In 1931 a coffee percolator short- 
circuited in the kitchen and the resulting conflagra- 
tion burned the mighty Alabama to the rails. 

The Elmlawn, acquired by the International Rail- 
way Company in 1905 for the use of funeral parties 
en route to cemeteries in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, 
Lockport, and the Tonawandas, was typical of the 
special funeral cars operated by several interurbans. 
Suitably finished in a somber dark green, the 
Elmlawn was fitted with heavy green draperies 
which provided adequate privacy for the party, and 
a special door and sliding shelf were installed for 
the casket. 

Frequently the interurban carbuilders pioneered 
important innovations in railroad passenger rolling 
stock. Several interurban lines, for example, were 
experimenting with roller bearing journals as early 
as 1911. The fully automatic coupling, which the 
steam railroad industry has yet to adopt, was a 
practical reality on an interurban line in 1914. The 


interurbans were a decade ahead of the steam rail- 
roads in lightweight car construction, and a wind- 
tunnel-designed, aerodynamic interurban was in 
daily operation in 1931, fully three years before the 
first diesel-electric streamliner took to steam road 
rails. But in the most fundamental advance of all 
in the railroad passenger car during the first half of 
the 20th century, the transition from wood to all- 
steel construction, the interurban builders lagged 
nearly 10 years behind the steam railroads. Even a 
few street railways and subways had steel cars well 
before they appeared on interurbans. 

The switch to steel was a reluctant one, for most 
of the carbuilders were ill equipped for metal car 
fabrication. Faced with the necessity of acquiring 
the expensive heavy machinery required to cut, 
form, and fasten steel members, more than one 
builder simply went out of business. Steel was 
first used only in center sill members, then for side 
plating which was fastened over wood framing 
members in what was termed "semi-steel" or "com- 
posite" construction. The full advantages of steel 
construction were not realized until steel side plat- 
ing was used in conjunction with steel framing mem- 
bers in such a manner that the car sides acted as 
girders and, along with the center sills, helped to 
carry the car's weight. Even after cars were being 
constructed entirely of steel the truss rods of wood 
construction were sometimes retained, although 

Directors of the C. D. Beebe syndicate, whose inter- 
urban activities were centered around Syracuse, N. Y., 
traveled about their traction domain in the incompa- 
rable private car 999, delivered by the G. C. Kuhlman 
Car Company of Cleveland in 1910. A splendid set of 
builder's views of its richly finished interior reveal 
scenes of electric car luxury that was not intended for 
the masses. Charles Goethe Collection (Below) ; 
William D. Middleton Collection (Right). 

- — ^s**- 


iissrl Ut 1 



C li 

^4 few jear5 a//er Pacific Electric tycoon Henry E. Huntington relinquished control of his traction empire to 
Southern Pacific, his celebrated private car Alabama was sold to the Sacramento Northern Railroad, where its 
sumptuous furnishings became available to the general public in parlor-diner service on the Meteor and other 
limited trains. It is seen here at Sacramento waiting to be attached to the San Francisco-bound Sacramento 
Valley Limited. Like many wooden interurbans, the Alabama met its end by fire. David L. Joslyn Collection. 







_ ... nm+ 

Before the automobile hearse became an acceptable 
mode of transportation to the last resting place, 
dignified funeral cars such as the Milwaukee 
Electric's No. 1000 were a common sight on in- 
terurban and street railway lines, and an on-line 
cemetery was considered a definite asset. 
State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

This special train, which operated over Pa- 
cific Electric's Glendale line in 1914, marked 
the first successful use of couplings which 
automatically made car, air, and electrical con- 
nections. Widely used on electric railways, the 
innovation was still not adopted for general use 
on steam railroads in 1961. William D. Mid- 
dleton Collection. 

many carbuilders were convinced that the compres- 
sion introduced into the steel frame when the truss 
rods were tightened actually served to weaken a car 
rather than to strengthen it, as its users supposed. 

By 1915, all-steel interurban car construction was 
almost universal. The greater safety of steel equip- 
ment in the event of accidents was an improvement 
of major importance, and the lines which adopted 
the new cars were quick to exploit the publicity ad- 
vantages. In 1915 one line, the Toledo, Fostoria & 
Findlay Railway, went so far as to insist that the 
builders use round-head, rather than countersunk, 
rivets wherever possible in its new steel cars, in 
order to clearly advertise to the public that the cars 
were not made of wood. 

The use of steel was lavish in the first years of 
metal car construction. Some of the first steel cars, 
built for the Union Traction Company of Indiana in 
1913, weighed almost 43 tons; and some of the 
heaviest cars ever built, which were turned out in 
1914 for the Michigan Railway, weighed over 65 
tons. Within a few years, as the builders became 
more familiar with the new materials, excess weight 
was eliminated, and cars of comparable size were 
being built which weighed less than 30 tons. 

Soon after World War I, when the automobile 
first began to make serious inroads upon interurban 
passenger revenues, many lines started to search for 
means of effecting substantial operating economies. 
Some of their most rewarding efforts were in the 
direction of lightweight car construction. Stronger 
alloys, lightweight metals, and better design were 
all used in an effort to reduce carbody weight, which 
in turn permitted the use of smaller trucks and 
motors with corresponding economies in power con- 
sumption. Ten lightweight cars built by the G. C. 
Kuhlman Car Company in 1922 for the Western 
Ohio Railway, for example, weighed only half as 


An otherwise conventional interurban of the Syracuse Northern Traction Company was distinguished 
by the experimental application of roller bearings. Several other interurbans, as early as 1910, 
made similar applications, far in advance of the adoption of roller bearings by steam railroads. 
Robert O. Waters Collection, from William R. Gordon. 

A close-up shows one type of fully automatic 
coupling, in interurban service on the Balti- 
more & Annapolis. William D. Middleton. 

much and consumed only half as much power as 
the cars they replaced, yet were capable of speeds as 
high as 50 miles per hour. 

A number of builders produced satisfactory light- 
weight cars, but the most notable of the lightweights 
was the distinctive curved-side design developed by 
the Cincinnati Car Company. An important struc- 
tural innovation gave the cars their unusual "fish- 
belly" appearance. A reverse curve, introduced into 
the alloy steel side plates, provided a girder strength 
much greater than that afforded by a flat plate of the 
same weight. Vertical stiffeners, cut to the curve of 
the side plates, maintained the side contour. The 
roof was built as a unit and was supported by two 
pairs of vertical posts which rested directly on the 
body bolsters. The window posts, which were 
structural members in ordinary -car construction, 
were simply inserts between the side plate and the 
letter board in the Cincinnati design. A special low- 
floor arch bar cantilever truck was developed for the 
car. Aluminum was liberally used for interior fit- 
tings to further conserve weight. 

The first Cincinnati curved-side cars, a group of 
10 built in 1922 for interurban service on the Ken- 
tucky Traction tk Terminal Company, were nothing 
less than a revolutionary improvement. Weighing 
barely 25,000 pounds in working order, the lightest 


Interurban car architecture of the heavy steel car period tended to straightforward, functional design, 
and rarely were the results more pleasing than in the case of this Indiana Service Corporation combine, 
one of five constructed by the St. Louis Car Company in 1926. Wilbourne B. Cox Collection. 

cars of their size and capacity ever turned out by 
Cincinnati, they weighed less than a third as much 
as the wooden cars they replaced, and the company's 
interurban power load was reduced by half. Four 
25-horsepower motors gave them a free running 
speed of 36 miles per hour — almost 10 miles per 
hour slower than the cars they replaced — but im- 
proved acceleration and deceleration characteristics 
made it possible to maintain the same schedules. 
The reduced power costs, in addition to the econo- 
mies of one-man operation, enabled the line to re- 
duce its fares. So spectacular was the success of the 
new cars that within two months a parallel bus op- 
eration had been forced out of business. 

Even at an early stage of development interurban 
cars were capable of rather high speeds, often in 

excess of 60 miles per hour, but over-all running 
times were usually anything but rapid. Lightly and 
cheaply built lines, which precluded sustained high 
speeds, and the almost universal operation through 
the streets of cities and towns, made high average 
speeds impossible. As late as 1906 three Ohio in- 
terurbans were claiming the "fastest electric service 
in the world" with limited trains which each av- 
eraged only about 32 miles per hour. The deficiency 
in speed was unimportant in the short haul passen- 
ger business, for the steam trains were even slower; 
but as the interurbans essayed the long haul trade, 
speed became a matter of great concern. 

In 1904 the John Stephenson Company, of Eliza- 
beth, N. J., exhibited a 12-wheeled interurban car, 
designed for extremely high-speed operation, at the 

To provide increased seating capacity in a single unit, a few lines came up with articulated interur- 
bans. The Milwaukee Electric Lines created eight of them in its Cold Spring shops in 1929 from 
conventional steel cars acquired from the Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Company. The re- 
sulting "duplex" units seated 84 passengers. State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 


A less successful interurban experiment was this 
bizarre device applied to the front end of a Buffa- 
lo & Lake Erie Traction car which ivas designed 
to utilize beat from the headlight to defrost the 
front windows. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

The powerful heavy steel cars received by the 
North Shore Line during the '20's, combined with 
track and power improvements, enabled the company 
to gain world honors for its high-speed schedules. 
A Chicago-bound train of '20's-vintage equip- 
ment, photographed during the mid-'50's in mod- 
ern Silverliner dress, upheld the tradition as its 
motorman notched the controller all the way around 
to maintain a start-to-stop Racine-Kenosha timing of 
10 miles in 10 minutes. William D. Middleton. 

Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. The 
car, it was claimed, could attain speeds as high as 
120 miles per hour, but there is no evidence that it 
was ever operated at speeds even approaching this 
figure. Stephenson, however, did produce some re- 
markable high-speed cars at an early date. In 1903 
a Stephenson-built car on the Aurora, Elgin & 
Chicago Railway managed to cover the 35 miles be- 
tween Aurora and Chicago in 34 minutes 39 seconds 
despite the loss of over 6 minutes in stops, and nu- 
merous speed reductions for steam railroads, trolley 
lines, and street and highway crossings. 

In 1903 the officials of the Louisiana Purchase 
Exposition organized the Electric Railway Test 
Commission to conduct a series of tests to develop a 
carbody design that would reduce wind resistance 
at high speeds. A long series of tests was carried 
out by the Commission in 1905 on the Union Trac- 
tion Company near Noblesville, Ind., with the 
Louisiana, a special dynamometer car which con- 
sisted of a 32-foot carbody arranged to roll freely 
on rails secured to a special motorized flat car so 
that the carbody's resistance could be measured in- 
dependent of that for the entire car. Vestibule 
sections of different shapes were suspended inde- 
pendent of the carbody, with a dynamometer to 
measure the resistance of each. Over 200 test runs 
were made at speeds up to 70 miles per hour with 
parabolic, wedge, standard, and flat vestibule ends. 

The Louisiana test results indicated that a para- 





bolic-shaped front end reduced wind resistance at 
high speeds below that of the conventional rounded 
profile, and a variety of interurban known as the 
"windsplitter" car subsequently appeared on several 
lines in Indiana, Ohio, and New York. Although the 
streamlined front end gave a dramatic appearance 
to the cars, no significant operating economies were 
realized, and streamlining was soon discarded for 
another quarter century. 

Interurban lines showed renewed interest in high- 
speed operation in the face of the increasing auto- 
mobile competition during the post-World War I 
period. The first speed-up efforts took the form of 
heavy steel cars, equipped with powerful motors, 
which were capable of extremely high sustained 
speeds. The most notable results along these lines 
were achieved by the three major Chicago area inter- 
urbans controlled by Samuel Insull, which not only 
operated handsome new steel cars but, even more 
important, spent millions in reconstructing track 
and power facilities to enable the lines to fully ex- 
ploit the potential capacity of the new cars. Top 
speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour were reached 
regularly, and station-to-station averages as high as 

This builder's close-up shows the "drum" connector employed to connect the 
carbodies of the articulated interurbans delivered to the Washington, Baltimore & 
Annapolis by J. G. Brill in 1927. William D. Middleton Collection. 

Most successful of the lightweight cars produced during the '20's was the Cincinnati Car 
Company's curved-side design, which was produced in such numbers for both interurban and street 
railway service that it became known as the Cincinnati "rubber stamp" car. This trim parlor car 
was delivered to the Indianapolis & Southeastern Railroad in 1929, only three years before the 
company went out of business. The car itself, however, operated for another 14 years on lines 
in Tennessee and Georgia. George Krambles Collection. 


70 miles per hour were not infrequently attained. 

On other systems efforts were directed to the 
development of a lightweight, high-speed car that 
could operate smoothly over the typically light, 
often rough interurban track, for many of the lines 
could ill afford the costly overhaul of roadbed and 
power systems required for satisfactory high-speed 
operation of heavy equipment. 

Late in 1929, Dr. Thomas Conway Jr. and associ- 
ates formed the new Cincinnati & Lake Erie Rail- 

road from three ailing Ohio traction properties and 
immediately ordered from the Cincinnati Car Com- 
pany 20 radical new high-speed cars designed to win 
back a declining passenger traffic. The design of the 
new cars was based upon extensive experimentation 
begun by the Conway group early in 1929 and 
carried out in conjunction with the Westinghouse 
Electric & Manufacturing Company, the General 
Electric Company, the J. G. Brill Company, the 
Cincinnati Car Company, and the Westinghouse 

A rakish parabolic front end gave the "windsplitter" cars evolved from the 1904 Louisiana tests a 
formidable appearance, but the design proved to be no faster than conventional cars and few were built. 
This steel windsplitter was one of two built by G. C. Kuhlman in 1912 for New York's Utica-Syracuse 
third-rail line, where they were known as "Arrow Cars." It is seen here on Clinton Square in 
Syracuse about to depart on a Utica local schedule. Industrial Photo Service. 


Traction Brake Company. Based upon the test re- 
sults, specifications were built up under the direc- 
tion of W. L. Butler, C&LE executive vice-president, 
for a low-level, lightweight car of steel and alumi- 
num that would be capable of sustained speeds in 
excess of 75 miles per hour. 

Among the major problems faced by C&LE and 
the manufacturers were the development of a satis- 
factory low-level truck which would operate smooth- 
ly at the extremely high speeds contemplated and 
the design of motors that were capable of producing 
the necessary power yet would meet the severe 
clearance limits of the low-level trucks. Braking 
presented another serious problem, and from the 
test program it was determined that something in 
addition to air braking was required. 

The Cincinnati Car Company adapted some of 
the low-level arch bar cantilever trucks used on its 
lightweight interurbans and mounted them under a 
car comparable to the type planned by C&LE for 
experimental purposes. A design was evolved for 
a satisfactory 28-inch-wheel, low-level truck, and 
following prolonged negotiation both Westinghouse 
and General Electric contracted to supply traction 
motors which developed 100 horsepower yet were 
compact enough to be mounted on the Cincinnati 
truck. The braking problems were solved by de- 
signing a magnetic track brake which came into play 
only after the air brake application approached the 
safe limits of wheel friction. 

The new cars, which made liberal use of alumi- 

num, went into service during 1930. Eminently 
successful, they were capable of speeds in excess of 
90 miles per hour. In the extensive publicity which 
surrounded their introduction, one of the cars at- 
tained a reputed speed of 97 miles per hour in a 
race against an airplane staged near Dayton in July 
1930 for the benefit of Pathe newsreel cameras. An- 
other of the cars outdistanced a racing car by 15 
lengths in a race held on the National Pike between 
Springfield and Columbus. Soon after the high- 
speeds went into regular service Electric Railway 
Journal reported, "Certain of the de luxe trains over- 
take and pass such steam trains as the Ohio State 
Limited to the great amusement and gratification of 
the interurbans' passengers." 

The response to the new equipment was heart- 
ening, and C&LE reported increased business at the 
expense of private autos, buses, and steam trains. 
Three weeks after the cars went into service the 
Big Four Railroad was forced to discontinue its 
Cincinnati-Columbus Senator. 

A year later the newly formed Indiana Railroad 
System acquired a fleet of 35 similar cars from Pull- 
man and the American Car & Foundry Company. 
Somewhat heavier, the Indiana cars had all-alumi- 
num bodies and employed a more conventional type 
of equalized cast steel truck. Unlike the C&LE cars, 
they were equipped for multiple unit operation. 

In 1930 the Conway group gained control of the 
Philadelphia & Western Railway, which badly 
needed new equipment to regain its competitive 


Exhaustive testing pro- 
duced the phenomenal 
"Red Devil" lightweight, 
high-speed car for the 
Cincinnati & Lake Erie in 
1930. Ten were built as 
straight coaches, and 10 
as coach-lounges, fitted 
with swank furniture and 
provided with "wrap- 
around" windshield visi- 
bility from the observa- 
tion section. The 123 was 
photographed at Moraine 
Park. Both Photos: 
Mayfield Photos Inc. 


position with newly electrified suburban lines of the 
Pennsylvania and Reading railroads. Co-ordination 
of a broad research program and preparation 
of detailed plans for the new cars was placed under 
the direction of P&W Vice-Chairman W. L. Butler, 
who had been largely responsible for development 
of the C&LE high-speed car design. One of the 
C&LE cars was shipped to P&W, where a testing 
program conducted in collaboration with the J. G. 
Brill Company produced an improved low-level 
truck design. 

An elaborate wind tunnel investigation was 
carried out at the University of Michigan under the 
direction of Prof. Felix W. Pawlowski to develop a 
carbody design which would permit the attainment 
of the desired high speeds with the lowest possible 
power consumption. Some 30 types of models were 
tested and Professor Pawlowski determined that a 
streamlined car could be constructed which would 
save 40 per cent or more of the energy required by 
the conventional type of suburban car operated at 
speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. 

The 10 Brill-built "Bullet" cars that were the 
result of the P&W research program represented 
the finest lightweight, high-speed interurban cars 
ever constructed. Built almost entirely of aluminum, 
the big 55-foot cars each had a total weight of barely 
26 tons. Wind tunnel research had shown that even 
such items as roof ventilators had an adverse effect 
on power consumption, and the roofs of the Bullets 
were unbroken by vents. Instead, ventilating air 
was drawn in through louvers at front and back of 

The Indiana Railroad's celebrated fleet of 35 
high-speed cars delivered in 1931 was similar 

to the design developed by Cincinnati & Lake 
Erie. Pullman and ACE divided the million- 
dollar order. Barney Neuberger Collection. 

Wind tunnel research, along with experience 
gained with the C&LE cars and the rest/Its of still 
more testing, produced this "Bullet" design for 
Philadelphia & Western in 1931. The sleek cars 
not only looked, but were, capable of speeds of 
over 90 miles per hour. WILLIAM D. Middleton. 

the cars and exhausted through streamlined ducts. 

The cars were designed for M.U. operation, and 
completely automatic, self-centering couplers were 
developed which made car, air, and electrical con- 
nections. Four 100-horsepower GE motors were 
mounted on the new Brill 89-E high-speed trucks. 
Equipped with field taps, the cars were able to attain 
speeds as high as 92 miles per hour, and in a test run 
one of the cars covered the 13.5-mile P&W line from 
Norristown to the 69th Street Terminal in Upper 
Darby in just 11 minutes. 

The high-speed car development represented vir- 
tually the last major effort of the interurban car- 
builders, soon to succumb to the combined effects 
of depression and a rapidly failing traction industry. 
Aside from a 1932 order for five cars of a modified 
Bullet design, constructed by Brill for the Fonda, 
Johnstown & Gloversville, none of the lightweight, 
high-speed car designs was ever repeated. 

With a few notable exceptions, interurban car 
construction came to a virtual end during the early 
years of the depression. In 1939 the bankrupt 
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee came back from 
a paralyzing strike and near abandonment with an 
order for two streamlined, air-conditioned trains 
that represented an ingenious solution to an almost 
impossible set of operating conditions. The North 
Shore wanted a train that could run like the wind 
and provide all the comforts of a steam road stream- 
liner. Yet it had to operate through the narrow plat- 
forms and around the hairpin turns of Chicago's El 
and, like a streetcar, negotiate major thoroughfares 
in Milwaukee. All this notwithstanding, builder 
St. Louis Car Company managed to shoehorn a com- 

plete streamliner into the Electroliners 156-foot, 
fish-bellied length. Constructed of welded high- 
tensile steel, each of the Electroliners consisted of 
four articulated units, driven by eight 125-horse- 
power motors and capable of speeds in the vicinity 
of 85 miles per hour. Entirely successful, they rep- 
resented the finest interurban equipment ever 

Another Chicago interurban, the Chicago Aurora 
& Elgin, purchased 10 new cars from the St. Louis 
Car Company at the end of World War II. While 
they featured a number of mechanical and electrical 
improvements, they were little different in outward 
appearance from the heavy steel cars of the post- 
World War I era. The very last interurbans of all 
were three streamlined trains delivered by St. Louis 
Car to the Illinois Terminal Railroad during 1948- 
1949. Clad in corrugated aluminum and trimmed in 
blue, the three hoof-nosed trains featured air con- 
ditioning, reclining seat coaches, parlor-observation 
cars, and a la carte dining service. 

Modifications of the streamlined PCC ( Presidents' 
Conference Committee) streetcar developed in the 
mid-'30's were used by several interurban systems. 
Pacific Electric, Illinois Terminal, and Philadelphia 
Suburban employed double-end, multiple-unit PCC- 
type cars in suburban services, and the Pittsburgh 
Railways used PCC cars on its long Washington and 
Charleroi interurban routes. 

Quite often during the interurbans' declining 
years, equipment improvement took the form of re- 
building and modernization of elderly rolling stock, 
with sometimes questionable results. Metal plating 
was often applied over the wood sheathing of an- 

Articulated carbodies permitted the North Shore's Electroliner streamliners to snake around the abrupt 
curvature of Chicago's elevated and Milwaukee street railway tracks, and a "fish-belly" side enabled them 
to squeeze between narrow elevated platforms. One of them whipped along north of Racine, Wis., 
at close to its 85-mile-per-hour top speed on the way to Chicago. William D. Middleton. 


9 a: 

The very last interurbans of all were three of these streamlined trams for the Illinois Terminal Railroad's 
St. Louis-Decatur and St. Louis-Peoria services. One is shown arriving at IT's subway in St. Louis. 
Their accommodations included reclining seat coaches, dining service, and parlor-observation sections, and 
all of these were comparable in every way to those of the finest postwar steam road streamliners. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection (Left); William D. Middleton (Right). 

tiquated cars in an effort to deceive the public, but 
this provided no added protection when wooden 
equipment was involved in collisions. Arched win- 
dows and stained glass became anachronisms as 
America entered the age of streamlining, and the 
sheet metal that was used to conceal them from view 
usually destroyed the graceful lines and pleasing 
balance of the carbuilders' architecture of an earlier 
time. Garish color schemes with such fanciful 
effects as wings, swirls, and stripes were often em- 
ployed in an effort to lend an air of speed and 
modernity. The North Shore Line went so far as 
to tediously decorate some of its equipment with 
aluminum paint and shadow markings in an effort 

to convince passengers that its 1920-vintage steel cars 
were really corrugated stainless-steel streamliners. 
More to the point, many interurbans concentrated 
on mechanical improvements and interior renova- 
tion of equipment, and a few even added air con- 
ditioning. The South Shore Line, which began 
chopping some of its solid Pullman-built interur- 
bans in two and splicing in an extra mid-section to 
gain extra seating capacity during World War II, 
carried the process still further on many cars to add 
new foam rubber seating, picture windows, and 
air conditioning, and managed to produce interur- 
bans that rivaled the best contemporary steam road 
coaches in passenger comforts. 1 



Roadside and Rural 


The New England Trolley 

Southbound from Kaugatuck to New Haven, a Connecticut 
Company trolley crossed a trestle at Beacon Falls in 1936. Wil- 
bur Sherwood, from Jeffrey K. Winslow Collection. 


Roadside and Rural 

The New England Trolley 

A shady road with a grassy track; 

A car that follows free; 
A summer's scene at early morn; 

A nickel for a fee. 

— Clinton W. Lucas. 

iNlOWHERE was simple joy riding by trolley more 
popular than on the intensively developed intercity 
electric network of New England. Almost all of the 
scores of lines were built to standards more appro- 
priate for street railways, and the true high-speed 
interurban of Midwestern practice was a rarity. In- 
stead, the New England electrics wandered leisurely 
along on lightly constructed trackage that followed 
rural roads, or sailed over hill and dale. Because 
speeds were usually low and frequent changes of 
cars were required, few used the trolleys for serious 
long-distance journeys, but the very nature of such 
relaxed and unhurried travel encouraged the de- 
velopment of the trolley vacation and the Sunday 
outing by electric car. So intensive was electric line 
development in such states as Connecticut and Mas- 
sachusetts that several alternate routes were usually 
available between principal points; between New 
Haven and Boston, for example, venturesome trol- 
ley tourists could choose from four major routes, 
with numerous minor variations. Many of the lines 
operated amusement parks, and there were large 
numbers of summer theaters, hotels, resorts, and 
casinos which catered to the trolley excursionist. 
The open trolley was ideal for such pleasure travel 
and nowhere in North America did it enjoy greater 

Numerous publishing houses and the trolley 
companies themselves produced a flood of maps, 
folders, and trolley touring guides designed to stim- 

ulate the electric car excursion. Typical was the 10- 
cent Trolley Trips, published in 1908, which lured 
prospective trolley tourists with an engaging offer 
of "your choice out of old New England, at ease in 
your own conveyance, seeing the best, going where 
you choose. We dart by quiet meadows, below an- 
cient elms, past the old white farmhouse, in and 
out of teeming city squares, the salt reach of the 
racing Sound, Titanism of the White Mountains, 
sandy isolation of Cape Cod, mysteries of Maine 
virgin forests. 

"We feel the cool rush of air on the cheek, heark- 
en to the rhythmic click-click of the rail." 


Among the few New England interurbans to de- 
velop an important freight traffic was the 33-mile 
Aroostook Valley Railroad, which connected Presque 
Isle, Washburn, Caribou, and New Sweden in north- 
ern Maine. Carload traffic in lumber and Maine 
potatoes was of principal importance from the time 
of the line's opening in 1910, and even during its 
peak years as a passenger carrier the Aroostook 
Valley never operated more than four passenger 
round trips daily. Soon after its opening the com- 
pany briefly entertained notions of grandeur and 
developed plans for the purchase of a 34-mile Ca- 
nadian Pacific branch that extended from Presque 
Isle to Aroostook Junction, N. B., and actually sur- 
veyed a 111-mile route that would have extended 
westward to a junction with the Quebec Central 
Railway at Lac Frontiere, Que. Later on the 
Aroostook Valley came under Canadian Pacific 


In 1913 the Wason works at Spring- 
field, Mass., furnished a pair of cars 

that were more characteristic of Alid- 

w est em interurban practice than of 

New England. No. 70 is shown in front 

of the Odd Fellows Hall in Washburn. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

Granville Allen, principal motor- 
man on AV passenger runs for 
a quarter of a century before 
the end of passenger operation 
in 1946, receives a train order. 
Gerald Boothbv. 

Aroostook Valley combination car 
No. 51, one of two delivered by J. G. 

Brill in 1910 for initial service over 
the line, is seen here at Presc/ue Isle. 

Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


The finest of all New England interurhans was the 
Portland-Lewiston Interurban Railroad, which 
opened a 31 -mile line constructed to high standards 
between its two terminal cities in 1914. Heavy 
wooden rolling stock for the high-speed service 
was provided by the Laconia and Wason companies, 
and the interurban followed the unique practice of 
naming each of them after a flower. Shown here 
is No. 18, the Azalea. The last important New 
England electric line to begin operation, the Port- 
land-Lewiston ivas abandoned only 19 years to 
the day after its opening, with the last run made by 
the same car, the same crew, and many of the same 
passengers that bad made the first trip. The final 
run was followed by an employees' "wake" at the 
Lewiston carbarn, where steamed clams, pickles, 
lobsters, and 3.2 beer were consumed, and speeches 
were made. Industrial Photo Service. 

One of Maine's largest electric railway systems 
was the Lewiston, Augusta & Water ville Street 
Railway, which operated rural trolley lines from 
Lewiston to Augusta, Bath, and Yarmouth. To 
encourage trolley excursion travel the com- 
pany ran Lake Grove Park at Auburn, featuring 
an open air theater, a skating rink, cottages, 
boating, and fishing. The company's Merry meet- 
ing Park between Brunswick and Bath offered a 
theater, a casino, and a lake. For special "trolley 
parties" the palatial parlor-observation car Merry- 
meeting was available at tnodest charges. In 
regular service the company operated Brill semi- 
convertible cars fitted with huge observation plat- 
forms and finished in gay chrome yellow and red 
colors. At top, one of them is seen passing through 
North Vassalboro, while in the other scene two 
of them meet at Depot Square in Gardiner. Both 
Photos: Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 



An unusual New England experiment was 
the Boston <St Maine's Concord & Man- 
chester branch line. This was constructed 
as an electric inter urban in 1902, and was 
said to be the first typical electric line 
built by a steam railroad as an inte- 
gral part of its general system. Although 
track was constructed to higher standards 
than on most New England electric lines, 
much of the 17 -mile route was laid in rural 
highways. Right and below are two views 
of the cars turned out by the B&M's Con- 
cord shops for initial service. Both 
Photos: Carl L. Smith Collection. 





The Turkey Falls covered bridge across the Merrirnac River at Bow was shared by the interurban 
and the B&M's Suncook Valley branch. A gantlet track was laid through the bridge and in- 
terlocking protection was provided. Carl L. Smith Collection. 




*fit it V 

■ M 

ML M_ r i 

Bound for Fair Haven, on the New York border, 
the Rutland Railway, Light & Power Company's 
Laconia-built combine No. 26 paused in a Rutland 
(Vt.) street alongside a snappy runabout, while 
the motorman posed stiffly in the doorway for the 
photographer. Barney Neuberger Collection. 

The Trolley That 
Met All the Trains 

Typical of the New England trolleys that 
met all the trains, and the last of them to 
survive, was the 8-mile Springfield Ter- 
minal Railway, which operated down the 
Black River Valley from Springfield, Vt., 
to Charleston, N. H., where a connection 
was made with Boston & Maine's Connecti- 
cut River line. The electric line developed 
an important carload freight business from 
industries at Springfield, which was not 
served by a steam railroad, and the company 
remains in operation as a diesel-pow- 
ered freight feeder for the parent B&M. 
Passenger operation ended in 1947. At up- 
per right, the company's two steel com- 
bines, both built by Wason in 1923, are 
seen on the square at Springfield in 1940; 
at right, one of them has just met a north- 
bound B&M local at Charleston in 1941. 
Charles A. Brown (Upper Right); 
Stephen D. Maguire (Right). 

Humming along through the orderly 
and tranquil Green Mountain country- 
side, the Mount Mansfield Electric 
Railway's combine No. 3 rolled past 
the park at W'aterbury Center, Vt. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


liitr T^rri 




I J- 



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In 7///y 2907, /Am group of straw-batted dignitaries traveled from Springfield to Palmer, Mass., on 
the first run over the Springfield & Eastern Railway. The exquisitely detailed parlor cars Huguenot 
and Rockrimmon were provided for the occasion. Barney Neuberger Collection. 

The 46-mile "trolley air 
line" of Boston & Worces- 
ter Street Railway was 
among the most important 
of New England interur- 
bans. With more private 
right of way operation than 
most of them, the company 
was able to provide rela- 
tively fast service. This 
line-up of B&W open cars 
was photographed about 
1905 at the Muster Grounds 
in Framingham. BARNEY 
Neuberger Collection. 


The lightly built New England electric lines were even more poorly adapted to 
the operation of heavy freight trains than most interurbans, and all but a few of 
them were confined to handling small shipments in box motors. The early de- 
velopment of good highways in New England brought a quicker end to such opera- 
tions there than elsewhere. This "Electric Express" train was photographed at 
Brockton, Mass., on the Bay State Street Railway, one of the most extensive of New 
England electric systems. Hard hit by truck competition, the company was 
obliged to give up its freight operation in 1920. Industrial Photo Service. 

jflflWtJP P*Il.MW« «OTi»T J U — 



Q 22 

Although neither could be classified as an interurban, there were two notable 
steam railroad electrification experiments in the Boston region. In the late '20's 
the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad electrified its narrow gauge steam 
suburban line, and coaches ivere provided with the necessary electrical equip- 
ment. Here at Crescent Beach station at Revere Beach, hordes of commuters un- 
load from an outbound train. Abandoned before World War 11, much of the 
former narrow gauge right of nay is now used by a new rapid transit line of 
Boston's Metropolitan Transit Authority. General Electric Company. 

In 1895 the New Haven Railroad electrified its Nantasket Beach line with trolley, 
and in 1896 extended the electric operation some 3 miles with center-running 
third rail. Boasting 200 horsepower, high-wheeled motor car 2510 seated 80 
persons, ivas more heroic in proportions than street railway open cars. 
Industrial Photo Service. 

The Brockton & Plymouth Street Railway operated through historic Pilgrim 
ground, and appropriately, the first cars of its earliest predecessor company bore 
such names as Governor Bradford, Elder Brewster, Myles Standish, and John 
Alden. The bass drum being carried on this overloaded car at Whitman was bound 
along with the crowd to Memorial Day festivities at the company's Mayflower 
Grove park in Pembroke. Carl L. Smith Collection. 


• * <# 


' •,;;* 

A few minutes out of Short Beach on the way to New Haven, a Connecticut Company car rolled through 
lush rural scenery. Although the last Connecticut Company electric passenger services were 
given up soon after World War 11, the trackage seen here is still operated as part of that owned by the 
Branford Electric Railway museum group. KENT W. COCHRANE. 

Northbound from New Haven to Waterbury over one of the fastest Connecticut Company lines, an 
Osgood Bradley suburban car passed through High Rock Grove at Naugatuck in May of 1937. 
Roger Borrup. 

In 1903, under newly elected President Charles S. 
Mellen, the New York, New Haven & Hartford 
Railroad began the acquisition of a vast mileage of 
urban and rural trolley lines in Massachusetts, Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, and New York's Westchester 
County, along with Long Island Sound steamship 
companies, in order to assure a continued New 
Haven monopoly of transportation in southern New 
England. By 1909 the New Haven controlled an 
estimated 1500 miles of electric railways, and ul- 
timately the steam line's electric subsidiaries in- 
cluded eight major properties. Largest of them was 
the Connecticut Company, which operated some 
700 miles of New Haven-owned track in the state. 
The New Haven's holdings in Rhode Island were 
similarly grouped under the management of the 
Rhode Island Company, and the railroad's several 
Massachusetts trolley systems were held by the New 
England Investment & Securities Company. 

To acquire control the New Haven paid prices 
that were often far higher than warranted by the 
electric lines' true value, or any but the most opti- 
mistic estimates of their future earnings. The 

Rhode Island trolley system, for example, was pur- 
chased for an amount said to be greater than three 
times its actual valuation. 

The excessive prices paid for the New Haven's 
electric subsidiaries, combined with their poor fi- 
nancial showing, contributed to the subsequent 
bankruptcy of the railroad, and by 1914 the Justice 
Department had brought action under the Sherman 
Antitrust Act to force the New Haven to divest 
itself of its electric line interests. Having closely 
tied the corporate structure of the trolleys to that 
of the steam line, Mellen stated rather smugly of the 
Government action, "The result is that now the De- 
partment of Justice is in despair. It is a hopeless 
tangle, as I intended it should be." 

Within the year, however, the New Haven was 
ordered to give up all of its electric line holdings 
except the New York, Westchester & Boston, and 
21 of the company's directors were indicted for 
violation of the Sherman Act. In Massachusetts state 
courts found New Haven control of electric lines 
through its subsidiary holding company to be in 
violation of state law. X 


Connecticut Company officers and other distinguished 
personages rode about the system in high style 
aboard business car No. 500, built in 1904 by the 
J. G. Brill Company. The car's interior was finished 
in hand-carved oak, provided with a lavatory and 
steward's galley, and furnished with broadloom car- 
peting and wicker lounge chairs. After the end of 
Connecticut Company electric passenger service, 
No. 500 became the premiere car of the Branford 
Electric Railway museum, where these photographs 
were taken in 1959. Both Photos: William D. 


Among the least successful of New England interurbans was the Shore 
Line Electric Railway, which opened a line between New Haven and Say- 
brook, Conn., in 1910. By 1913, through leases of connecting lines, the 
company was operating some 250 miles of track extending east to 
Westerly, R. I., and northward up the Quinebaug River valley almost to 
the Massachusetts border. Plagued by meager earnings, the company suf- 
fered a series of serious reverses beginning with a violent head-on collision 
in 1917 which took 19 lives and injured 35, and culminating with a strike 
in 1919 that resulted in bankruptcy and the suspension of operations. Por- 
tions of the system later resumed independent operation, and the original 
Shore Line route betiveen Saybrook and New Haven was restored to opera- 
tion after four years of idleness — but lasted only six more years. In con- 
trast to its poor financial shoiving, the original Shore Line route was 
constructed to some of the highest standards in New England, with ex- 
tensive private right of way and a 1200-volt catenary trolley system. Shown 
here operating over the original line is one of the company's wooden, 
center-entrance cars built by Jewett in 1910. A few of them were sold 
in 1920 after the suspension of service and one survived into the early '50's 
on loua's Charles City Western Railway. General Electric Company. 

"Take the Trolley," advised this early promotional folder, which contained 
a lithographed map of Connecticut Valley electric lines and described points 
of interest along the way. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 







: ^ ..''?• ^*<m '• 

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Through Eastern Hills and Valleys 

The Middle Atlantic States 

Not long after the turn of the century a deck-roofed International 
Railway car waited at the Lockport depot for a trip to Buffalo. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 




Through Eastern Hills and Valleys 

The Middle Atlantic States 

IN TERMS of total interurban mileage the Mid- 
dle Atlantic states were eclipsed only by the East 
North Central states with their phenomenal net- 
work in the Midwestern heartland of the interurban. 
Pennsylvania, if it lacked the integrated traction 
system of such states as Ohio and Indiana, exceeded 
all other states in sheer numbers of electric railway 
properties. The populous cities of New Jersey were 
linked by the trolley rails of numerous independent 
companies and the great Public Service Railway 
system, which operated nearly 900 miles of street 
and interurban railway. From the Hudson to the 
Pennsylvania border, broken only by a 31-mile gap 
between Little Falls and Fonda, upstate New York 
boasted a continuous web of interurban railways, 
which followed such earlier arteries of Empire State 
commerce as the Mohawk Trail, the Erie Canal, and 
the New York Central through the prosperous cities 
of the Mohawk Valley and the southern littoral of 
Lake Ontario. 

Along the Mohawk Trail 

A considerable traction development was centered 
about the Upper Hudson cities of Albany, Troy, and 
Schenectady. South of the capital city third-rail in- 
terurbans of the Albany Southern Railroad raced 
down the east side of the Hudson to Nassau, Kinder- 
hook, and Hudson. In its earlier years the Albany- 
Hudson line offered summer excursionists a com- 
bination trolley-steamer outing for only 75 cents, 
which included one-way transportation on the in- 
terurban and a return trip aboard steamers of the 
Hudson River Day Line. For those who so wished, 
an evening stopover for theatrical performances at 
the company's Electric Park on Kinderhook Lake 
could be arranged. The Schenectady Railways op- 
erated interurbans to Albany, Troy, and Saratoga; 
and summer travelers to the posh watering places of 
Ballston Spa, Saratoga, Lake George, and the lower 
Adirondacks rode the big open cars of the Hud- 
son Valley Railway, which extended from Troy to 

A steam short line, the Fonda, Johnstown & Glover sville Railroad, opened a 

Schenectady-Gloversville electric division soon after the turn of the century. 

One of the big wooden St. Louis-built interurbans that provided the initial service. 

Schenectady Limited car No. 104, paused for this photograph near Johnstown. 

Its luxuriously appointed interior included a paneled and mirrored smoking room. 

The banner draped across the pilot advertised a Fourth of July celebration at 

Sacandaga Park in the Adirondacks, reached by the company's steam division. 

From William R. Gordon. 


Albany-Hudson Fast Line No. 60 was well 
equipped for current collection, with trol- 
ley poles, pantograph, and third-rail shoes. 
The Fast Line was abandoned in 1929, but 
this car rolled up the miles until after 
World War II, on the FJ&G and on the 
Portland-Oregon City interurban. John 
D. Murphy, from William R. Gordon. 

Past a rambling frame summer hotel, a Hudson 

Valley open car rolled through a tree-shaded 

street of Ball st on Spa on the way to Saratoga. Like 

several other New York interurbans, the Hudson 

Valley was owned by a steam railroad, having been 

bought out early in the century by the Delaware & 

Hudson. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


Despite the hard times of depres- 
sion and declining traffic, FJ&G 
made an earnest effort to stay 
in the interurban passenger 
business with five lightweight 
"Bullet" cars delivered by J. G. 
Brill in 1932, accelerated sched- 
ules, and reduced fares. Business 
boomed for a time, but abandon- 
ment of electric operation came 
only six years later and the 
Bullets found a new home on 
Utah's Bamberger Railroad. Two 
of the high-speed cars met at 
the Johnstown depot on the oc- 
casion of a 1936 fan excursion. 
James P. Shuman, from Wil- 
liam Moedinger Jr. 

ii* " ■ i "•■ i 

Owe o/ //^e fastest Empire State interurbans was the 
New York State Railways' 44-mile route, formerly 
the Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway, which con- 
nected Rochester with the Finger Lakes region and 
Geneva. Beyond Geneva, interurban travelers were 
able to continue as far south as Watkins by means 
of a Seneca hake steamship connection. Impromptu 
races between the electric cars and steam trains on 
the parallel New York Central Auburn branch, be- 
tween Rochester and Canandaigua, were common, 
and in a celebrated contest staged in 1904 an R&E 
car outdistanced a four-car passenger train. This 
splendid scene was photographed shortly after a new 
block signal installation in 1914 enabled the line 
to reduce running times for the Orange Limiteds to 
1 hour 45 minutes from previous schedules of 2 
hours or more. During R&E's last years timings 
were further accelerated when the line, along with 
other Rochester interurbans, entered the city 
through a new 9-mile subway, laid in the aban- 
doned bed of the old Erie Canal. But oul\ 
three years after the interurbans began using the 
subway in 1928, the last of them was abandoned. 
General Railway Signal Company. 

Among the lines of the Central's trolley empire was 
a notable interurban experiment, the 44-mile Oneida 
Railway, which began operating between LJtica 
and Syracuse in 1907 over the tracks of the NYC- 
owned West Shore Railroad, electrified for the pur- 
pose with a 600-volt undervunning third-rail power 
system identical to that used in New York Central's 
New York terminal electrification. Ultimately, it 
ivas envisioned, the Oneida line could become part 
of a New York-to-Buffalo electrification of the New 
York Central. The electric cars, which supple- 
mented West Shore steam trains, reached downtown 
Syracuse and Vtica over street railway tracks. Four- 
teen of these wood and steel cars, delivered in 1907 
by J. G. Brill, were standard equipment for the 
line. Industrial Photo Service. 

Soon after the turn of the century the New York 
Central, in order to forestall the threatened com- 
petition of new electric railways in its territory, be- 
gan acquiring widespread interests in a number of 
upstate electric lines, consolidating them into the 
600-mile New York State Railways in 1909. 


For a relatively brief period, from 1911 to 1919, the important Buffalo, Lock- 
port & Rochester Railway was a part of the Beebe syndicate. The line, which 
operated from Rochester to Lockport, where a Buffalo connection was made, was 
built to unusually high standards, with 70-pound rail and crushed rock ballast. 
Shown are two of the heavy wooden cars built by Niles which were operated in 
high-speed service. George Krambles Collection. 

Second only to the New York State Railways 
in New York interurban mileage were the five 
lines, largely centered around Syracuse, operated by 
the syndicate headed by Clifford D. Beebe. At their 
peak the Beebe lines included some 318 miles 
of electric railway, extending from Oswego to Lock- 
port, as well as steamship lines on Skaneateles and 
Oneida lakes. Pride of the syndicate was the 88- 
mile Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Railroad, com- 

pleted in 1909 at a total cost of 7 million dollars and 
hailed at the time as one of the nation's finest inter- 
urbans. Double tracked throughout, the route was 
free of grade crossings, and observed a maximum 
curvature of 6 degrees outside of towns. Much of 
the line employed heavy steel catenary bridges to 
support the trolley wire. Driven by four 125-horse- 
power motors each, the company's limited cars made 
the trip between terminals in 2 hours 50 minutes. 

A Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern car battled a typical upstate New York winter on the way south from 
Oswego to Syracuse. The double track, steel overhead bridges, and catenary trolley wire were repre- 
sentative of the high construction standards observed by Beebe lines. From William R. Gordon. 

An elderly Jewett interurban of the Beebe syndicate's Auburn & Syracuse Railroad squealed around 
a tight curve in Auburn streets on its way to Syracuse in 1922. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


Bound for a Lake Ontario outing at Olcott Beach, three heavily loaded 
International Railway interurbans paused for the photographer. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

Extended interurban travel in almost every di- 
rection from Buffalo was possible. Interurbans of 
the International Railway transported Niagara 
Frontier residents to Lockport and Olcott Beach, on 
Lake Ontario, and to Niagara Falls. At Lockport 
passengers bound for Rochester could transfer to 
cars of the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway, 
and for a few years a through car service between 

Buffalo and Rochester was available. At the Falls 
connections could be made for Canadian points. So 
dense was traffic over the International Railway's 
original "Honeymoon Line" to the Falls, opened in 
1895, that trackage was replaced in 1918 with the 
company's splendidly engineered "Buffalo-Niagara 
Falls High Speed Line," which cut running time 
between the two cities from 80 minutes to an hour. 





£ ' 



The Great Gorge Route 

No visit to the Falls was really com- 
plete without a trip through the 

gorge by open trolley on the Niag- 
ara Gorge Railway. Postcard views 

of "The Great Gorge Route" were 

mailed home by the thousands. 

Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


West of Buffalo the Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company tied the Empire State trolley network to 

the great systems of Ohio and Indiana. Mainstays of the 90-mile Buffalo (N.Y.)-Erie (Pa.) main line 

were a dozen fast and heavy Kuhlman interurhans of particularly graceful proportions. Two of them 

are shown here, glistening in freshly applied varnish. George Krambles Collection. 

New York's longest lived interurban was the Jamestown, West field & 
Northivestern, which was created in 1913 by electrification of a bank- 
rupt steam railroad that operated up the east shore of Chautauqua Lake 
from Jamestown to a junction with the New York Central at West- 
field. A phenomenal snowfall caused complications when it came time 
for the JW&NW to discontinue passenger service in November 1947, 
as this "last day" scene at Westfield indicates, and the company was forced 
to precede its passenger cars with a locomotive to break through heavy 
drifts on the line. Robert W. Richardson. 

* vx. 



The B&LE emerged from an extended receivership in 1924 with a new manage- 
ment and a new name, the Buffalo & Erie Railway. Fourteen lightweight "fish- 
belly" interurhans were delivered the next year by the Cincinnati Car Com- 
pany. The first really fast lightweight cars built, they were capable of mile-a- 
minute speeds. Weighing only half as much as the big wooden cars they replaced, 
and designed for one-man operation, the new interurhans reduced the company's 
operating costs per car-mile by over 25 per cent. Interior appointments in- 
cluded parlor chairs, available at no extra cost, and for a brief period, limited 
cars were staffed with porters. Shortly after the new equipment went into service 
a limited from Buffalo rolled through Erie streets in heavy flivver traffic. 
Fred E. Barber, from Howard E. Johnston Collection. 



*» » » i i 1 

"I I 'P i 1- 1 •> 


The New York, Westchester & Boston, opened in 1912, was one of 
the most superbly engineered — and expensive — ■ lines of the electric 
traction era. Constructed to standards equal to those of the mainline 
electrification of its parent New Haven, the Westchester employed 
1 1 ,000-rolt A.C. power, a catenary overhead supported by heavy steel 
structures, a grade-crossing-free right of way, and reinforced concrete 
stations of truly monumental architecture. Planned to relieve com- 
muter congestion on the Neiv Haven's Grand Central Terminal line, 
the NYW&B never developed sufficient traffic to pay its high costs or 
to even approach its tremendous passenger-carrying capacity. Shortly 
before abandonment in 1957 a White Plains car and a two-car Port 
Chester train crossed a massive, four-track steel viaduct in Mt. Vernon 
that characterized the Westchester. George E. Votava. 

The Elmira, Coming & Waverly 
Railway's route between Elmira 
and Coming was only a year old 
W hen inter urbans 107 and 110 
met at a siding near Big Flats, 
on the banks of the Chemung 
River, in 1912. In pre-auto- 
mobile days vacation travel to 
summer cottages along the riv- 
er furnished a considerable 
traffic. Stephen D. Maguire 

New Jersey's Burlington & Mount Holly Traction Railroad Company was an 
early Pennsylvania Railroad electrification experiment. The line's One-Spot, 
a trim combine, toned an open-platform coach belonging to its parent. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

The last New Jersey interurban was the At- 
lantic City & Shore Railroad, which operated 
between the resort centers of Atlantic City and 
Ocean City. After the cars reached the out- 
skirts of the line's terminal cities, trolley poles 
were hooked down for a fast ride over third- 
rail-equipped trackage of the Pennsylvania 
Railroad. In 1947 "Shore Fast Line" interur- 
ban 117 traversed the long trestle crossing 
Great Egg Harbor River, between Ocean City 
and Somers Point. John A. Rehor. 

Pennsylvania Dutch 

More scenic than rapid was the 
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Rail- 
way, whose cars required fully 2 
hours to negotiate the 32-mile route 
between Easton and Doylestown, 
Pa. The line was part of a route 
to Delaware Water Gap resorts for 
unhurried Philadelphians, requir- 
ing no less than 6 hours and five 
changes of cars en route for the 84- 
mile journey. One of the company's 
little trolleys rattled through splen- 
did Delaware Valley scenery near 
Raubsville not many years after 
opening in 1904. Stephen D. 
Maguire Collection. 



The Northampton Transit Company, which wandered some 

18 miles northward from Easton to Bangor, Pa., was another 

link in the leisurely scenic route from Philadelphia to the 

Water Gap. Passengers were scarce in the line's sparsely settled 

territory, and the economies of Cincinnati lightweight cars 

were introduced in 1924. Bright and new, one of them 

paused at the company' s neat station at a park not far from 

Easton. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

- Oil*. 

to. .«$- 

Southbound to Norristotvn, Pa., a Lehigh 
Valley Transit Company Liberty Bell Limited 
reached the crest of the long grade up Lehigh 
Alountain at Summit Lawn one June after- 
noon in 1950. William D. Middleton. 

Abandonment was not far away and the weeds grew 
unchecked between the rails when these ex-C&LE 
Liberty Bell Limiteds met at the Quakertown sid- 
ing in 1950. William D. Middleton. 

In 1903, with the opening of a new line to the 
Philadelphia suburb of Chestnut Hill, the Lehigh 
Valley Transit Company, whose operations had 
heretofore been largely centered in the Allentown 
area, embarked on the first step of a grand plan for 
a high-speed electric railway that would reach both 
Philadelphia and New York. The Pennsylvania 
Dutch interurban never made it beyond Pennsyl- 
vania borders, but its Allentown-Philadelphia "Lib- 
erty Bell Route" achieved deserved fame. After ex- 
tensive rebuilding for high-speed operation and con- 
struction of a Norristown connection with the newly 
completed high-speed, third-rail Philadelphia & 
Western in 1912, LVT was able to halve running 
times between the two cities. Combined with low- 
er fares, the faster service enabled the company to 
divert a considerable passenger traffic from the steam 
trains of the competing Reading Company. By 
means of connections LVT was able to accommodate 
excursionists to the popular Delaware Water Gap, a 
traffic which the company assiduously promoted 
with its widely shown publicity film, "A Honey- 
moon Trip to Delaware Water Gap." 



After suffering a two-thirds decline in its passen- 
ger traffic during a decade of depression, LVT re- 
juvenated its interurban business in 1939 with 
extensively remodeled lightweight rolling stock 
from defunct Midwestern traction properties. 
Thirteen of the Cincinnati & Lake Erie's renowned 
high-speed cars were refinished in "picador cream" 
trimmed in "mountain ash scarlet," and provided 
with aluminum roofs, stainless-steel pilots, and 
chromium-plated accessories for Liberty Bell Lim- 
ited service. Interiors were refinished and re- 
upholstered, and some of the cars were provided 

with club compartments at the observation end. 
Two years later a former Indiana Railroad car was 
similarly refurbished and provided with lounge 
furniture throughout, along with such elaborate 
touches as a miniature hanging wall garden, com- 
plete with sansevieria and philodendron plants. 
Four Cincinnati curved-side lightweights were ac- 
quired in 1919 from the Dayton & Troy Electric 
Railway in Ohio for Easton Limited service. Fresh 
frotn overhaul, one of them was photographed at 
LVT's Fairview Shops in Allentown. David M. 
Knauss, Commercial Photographer. 

Freshly done up in maroon and trimmed in silver, Liberty Bell interurban No. 800 
trundled through the passing track at School Siding in Center Valley in 19%. 
When originally delivered by Jewett in 1912, No. 800 was among the first railroad 
cars equipped with roller bearings. John P. Scharle. 

Bullets to Norristown 

"The Philadelphia & Western . . . marks another 
noteworthy step in the development of heavy elec- 
tric traction for high-speed transportation of the 
suburbs of our large cities," observed the Street Rail- 
way Journal on the occasion of the line's opening 
between Upper Darby and Strafford in 1907; and 
indeed, the P&W's builders had set a new standard 
for the electric railway industry. Constructed with- 
out a single grade crossing with roads or other 
railroads, the double-track, third-rail-operated P&W 
was built with maximum grades of 2Vi per cent and 
a maximum curvature of 5 degrees, despite the ex- 
ceedingly irregular topography through which it 
operated. To meet these exceptional standards, the 

builders excavated a million cubic yards of rock and 
earth and placed a like amount in fills. The entire 
line was governed by an absolute block signal sys- 
tem, the first ever installed on an interurban. Com- 
muters from Strafford, Norristown (which was 
reached in 1912), and intermediate suburbs were 
able to reach downtown Philadelphia with a transfer 
to elevated trains at 69th Street Terminal in Upper 
Darby, a combination which bettered steam railroad 
commuting times. A projected P&W elevated and 
subway that would have extended clear to the Dela- 
ware River was never built. 

In 1930, beset by vigorous competition from new- 
ly electrified steam railroad suburban lines and 
handicapped by an aging fleet of wooden interur- 
bans, a new P&W management, headed by Dr. 
Thomas Conway Jr., addressed itself to the task of 
restoring the company's competitive position. Ex- 
perimentation and wind tunnel research produced 
the design for 10 magnificent "Bullet" interurbans, 
and major improvements were made to track and 
signal systems to permit extremely high speeds. New 
schedules instituted upon completion of the half- 
million-dollar improvement program cut Norris- 
town line express running times by almost a third. 
P&W was again, as Electric Railway Journal termed 
it, "in the forefront of American high-speed subur- 
ban railroads." 

The P&W's major engineering work was this 3850- 
foot steel bridge that carried the line over numerous 
steam railroads, several canals, and the Schuylkill 
River into Norristown. A Bullet rumbled across it 
one summer day in 1956. William D. Middleton. 

En route to Norristown at better than a mile a minute, Philadelphia & Western Bullet 200 
leaned into superelevated curvature near Bryn Mawr in 1956. William D. Middleton. 




v ■ "Ska 






The rhythmic tattoo of steel wheels on open track abruptly became a hollow rumble as a fast moving 
Red Arrow interurban flashed across the Crum Creek bridge at Smedley Park on an August afternoon 
in 1956 (see text, next page). William D. Middleton. 


Red Arrow Trolleys 

Sharing 69th Street Terminal space with the Phil- 
adelphia & Western was the Philadelphia & West 
Chester Traction Company, a still-operating electric 
line that can trace its corporate history back more 
than a century to the incorporation of the Philadel- 
phia & West Chester Turnpike Road Company in 
1848. Before the trolley wire went up in 1896, Red 
Arrow Lines predecessor companies transported 
Main Line commuters in such assorted conveyances 
as mule cars and steam dummy trains. Reorganized 
as the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Com- 
pany in 1936, the Red Arrow system merged with 
neighboring Philadelphia & Western in 1954. 

Philadelphia Suburban interurban No. 81, a 1932 

Brill lightweight capable of speeds up to 76 miles 

per hour, loaded homeward-bound commuters at 

69th Street one afternoon in 1956. William D. 


One of PSTCo's newest cars, a 1949 St. Louis 
interurban of PCC streetcar lineage, rolled 
along beside a split rail fence on roadside 
trackage of the West Chester line near Edge- 
mont, Pa., a few days before abandonment of 
the Red Arrow Lines' longest route in 1954. 
Edward S. Miller. 

The Citizens Traction Company of Oil City pro- 
vided local and interurban electric service to Oil 
City and nearby communities, in the historic oil 
lands of northwestern Pennsylvania, not far from 
the site of Col. Edwin Drake's epochal strike at 
Titusville in 1859. Northbound from Franklin to 
Oil City, interurban No. 50 paused at the Reno 
switch. The gold-trimmed, medium red J. G. Brill 
car employed the manufacturer's popular semi- 
convertible system, which provided disappearing 
window sash for summer trolleying. Donald K. 
Slick Collection. 

Pennsylvania traction was typified by light inter- 
urban and rural trolley systems of modest ambitions 
which radiated from the cities and county seats 
in profusion throughout the state. Only rarely 
were they interconnected in the fashion of the other- 
wise similar systems of New England. Among them 
were such lines as the Conestoga Transportation 
Company, which centered its activities around Lan- 
caster, seat of the county of the same name. This 
Conestoga interurban rolled through a forested coun- 
tryside on the line to Ephrata in 1946. At one time 
the system's rails went all the way to Coatesville, 
clear over in the next county. Herman Rinke. 

M. S. Hershey, the "Chocolate King," began con- 
struction of the Hershey Transit Company in 1904 to 
furnish transportation for workmen and milk to 
his chocolate factory at newly founded Hershey, 
in Dauphin County, Pa. Resplendent in dark green, 
trimmed with cream and gold, this well-kept Hershey 
interurban wheeled through the manicured grounds 
of the Hershey Hotel in 1939. Another electric 
line in the Hershey chocolate empire, Hershey Cuban 
Railway, still operates. Jeffrey K. Winslow. 


Just before plunging into the tun- 
nel — nearly a mile in length — 
that carried the line under the 
hills of Scranton's south side, a 
Laurel Line inlerurban thundered 
across Roaring Brook in 1951. 
John F. Endler Jr. 


Heavy Traction in the 
Anthracite Country 

Eastern financiers in 1900 proposed the construc- 
tion of a 200-mile system of interurbans in the popu- 
lous Pennsylvania anthracite country. The only part 
of the ambitious scheme to materialize was the Lack- 
awanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad, which con- 
structed a double-track, third-rail line to high stand- 
ards over some 20 miles between Scranton and 
Wilkes-Barre. One of the earliest interurbans to em- 
ploy the third-rail power system, which for a time 
was highly regarded for high class interurban roads, 
the "Laurel Line" received considerable support 
from the Westinghouse interests, which were con- 
cerned with the line for experimental purposes; and 
George Westinghouse and other company officials 
were actually listed as directors of the road for a 
short period. 

On a bright December day in 1950 an Os- 
good Bradley combine, bound for Scranton, 
whipped along through a Laurel Line 
snowscape near Avoca. John F. Endler Jr. 


A Pittsburgh & Butler Street 
Railway interurban rolled up to 
the Pittsburgh depot in 1914 
when horse traffic still shared 
street space with the early motor 
cars. The interurban' s dash sign 
advertised a Damrosch con- 
cert. Stephen D. Maguire 

A St. Louis-built interurban, 
northbound as a Butler Local, 
negotiated one of the substantial 
steel bridges that ivere frequent 
in the hill country traversed by 
the Harmony Route. The closely 
spaced overhead poles, which 
simplified trolley wire construc- 
tion at curves, were another 
Harmony Route characteristic. 
Charles A. Brown Collection. 

Operating north from Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh, 
Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway and the 
Pittsburgh & Butler Street Railway were associated 
broad gauge interurbans of considerable early dis- 
tinction in the traction industry. The "Harmony 
Route" was one of the first interurbans to use the 
superior 1200- volt direct current electrification sys- 
tem, and the line's builders employed such radical 

departures from conventional practice as the use of 
track laid on large concrete blocks embedded in 
the roadbed, rather than the usual wooden ties. The 
neighboring "Short Line" was originally electrified 
in 1905 with a 3300-volt alternating current system, 
which was later changed to 6600 volts, and finally, 
in 1914, P&B was among the earliest A.C. interur- 
bans to convert to the more successful D.C. system. 


Short Line interurbans were impressive vehicles. Cincinnati-built No. Ill, a double-end coach seating 
")2, weighed almost 38 tons. Trolley poles were used for operation through city streets, but the panto- 
graph was raised for fast running through open country. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

Pittsburgh Railways, which still remains as one of the largest street railway 
systems in North America, operated a pair of interurban routes through spec- 
tacular scenery to Washington, Donora, Charleroi, and Roscoe. These left 
Pittsburgh through the Mount Washington tunnel, the second longest interur- 
ban tunnel in the (J. S. St. Louis-built interurban No. 3802, which featured plush- 
upholstered bucket seats and rear-facing observation seats, is seen near Thomp- 
sonville on the Washington line. The car was the last word in Pittsburgh Rail- 
ways interurban equipment until the arrival of radio-equipped, air-cooled PCC 
interurbans during the late 1940' 's. Union Switch & Signal Company, from 

Robert F. Scanlon. 


The conductor on a northbound Butler Flyer did some short flagging while the motorman 
called the dispatcher for orders. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

Orange Trolleys on West Penn Hills 

Through wonderfully scenic hills and valleys of 
western Pennsylvania, studded with coal tipples and 
beehive coke ovens, wandered the distinctive orange 
trolleys of the West Penn Railways, a system that 

at one time operated 340 miles of electric railway 
in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The 
principal West Penn electric lines were included in 
the company's Coke Region, located in Westmore- 
land and Fayette counties in the bituminous-rich 
Allegheny Plateau. X 


Northbound from Fairchance to Uniontown, West Penn 706 met furious action on neigh- 
boring Baltimore & Ohio, where un articulated hurled smoke and cinders into the sky as it 
fought upgrade with a string of hoppers. Lester Wismer, from Stephen D. Maguire. 


This is the magnetic track brake employed by West Penn interurbans, which were 
without conventional air brake systems. To stop his car a West Penn mo tor man 
used controller positions that converted the traction motors to generators. The 
current passed through the spring-suspended electromagnets, drawing them down 
against the rail and at the same time actuating a series of levers which tightened 
brake shoes. Once stopped, the cars were held by cranking up a long gooseneck 
hand brake. Anthony F. Krisak. 


A few shirt-sleeved passengers gazed momentarily upon the waters of Loyalhanna Creek as car 111 
sped across a bridge on the Latrobe line in 1952. John Stern. 

Bridges, sharp curves, and perilous grades abounded on the abrupt profile of 
West Penn lines. Center-door car 715 traveled across a typical trestle on the 
Uniontown-Brownsville line in 1949. This interurban was one of 39 identical air- 
less, whistleless cars built by the Cincinnati Car Company and company shops 
from 1912 to 1925 which performed a majority of West Penn services there- 
after. Anthony F. Krisak. 


Trolley Sparks in Dixieland 

The South Atlantic States 


On the occasion of a 1941 excursion Hagerstown & Frederick Rail- 
way interurban No. 160 headed for Myersville, Md., on what was left 
of the company's onetime route from Frederick to Hagerstown. The 
engaging H&F roamed in roller coaster fashion across the scenic Mary- 
land hills, with grades that often seemed perilous in the extreme. 
Howard E. Johnston. 


Trolley Sparks in Dixieland 

The South Atlantic States 

SOUTH of the heavily populated industrial areas 
of the Middle Atlantic coast, interurbans became in- 
frequent. In the less populated, less prosperous states 
of the Confederacy beyond the Potomac there were 
far fewer opportunities for the quick and plentiful 
profits interurban developers so often foresaw in 
other areas. Aside from a substantial electric mile- 
age in Maryland, there were only occasional in- 
terurbans which ventured into the country from 
the larger cities, and in the entire region only a 
handful of systems existed which could be called of 
major importance. Beyond the environs of the na- 
tional capital, sustained travel by the electric cars 
was not possible. 

70 mph across Maryland 

Pre-eminent among interurbans of the South 
Atlantic states was Maryland's Washington, Balti- 
more & Annapolis Railroad, which joined the cities 
of its corporate title with a remarkable high-speed 
system. Electrified with a 6600-volt A.C. system, the 
WB&A's double track Baltimore- Washington main 
line was opened in 1908, and limited service was in- 
itially provided with huge 62-foot, 44-ton Niles 
"Electric Pullmans." Too heavy to permit operation 
over Washington streetcar tracks, the big cars were 
soon sold and replaced by equipment of more modest 
dimensions. Before World War I WB&A, in com- 

pany with connecting steamship lines, operated an 
extensive excursion business to such widespread 
points as Norfolk, Savannah, Boston, and Provi- 
dence. A round trip Washington-Atlantic City tour, 
for example, which included interurban transporta- 
tion to Baltimore, steamship passage to Philadelphia, 
and steam railroad travel to Atlantic City, cost only 
$5. At the peak of WB&A operations close to 100 
trains cleared the Baltimore terminal daily. Wash- 
ington limiteds left every half hour, and locals de- 
parted hourly. Annapolis trains operated every hour 
on the South Shore line and every half hour on the 
North Shore route. 

WB&A's finest interurbans were 10 of these two- 
section articulated cars delivered by ]. G. Brill 
in 1927. Seating 94 passengers in plush-upholstered 
bucket seats, the 97-foot cars represented a 27 per 
cent reduction in weight from the company's older 
wooden equipment of comparable capacity. Despite 
a half hour spent getting out of Washington over 
the local car tracks, these big cars were able to op- 
erate between the Washington and Baltimore ter- 
minals on schedules that were competitive with the 
steam railroads. On some limited schedules, with 
65-minute timings for the 40-mile run, average 
speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour were main- 
tained over the 24 miles of open track between the 
two cities. George Krambles Collection. 


Originally the steam-powered Annapolis & Elk- 
ridge, the WB&A's South Shore line into Annapolis 
uas among America's earliest railroads, having op- 
erated its first train on Christmas Day 1840. During 
the early days of the Civil War its rails were used 
by Union troops to bypass Baltimore after Con- 
federate sympathizers had cut the Baltimore & 
Ohio main line. This two-car special operated to 
Annapolis over the line in 1935. Parlor car No. 100, 
at the rear of the train, was normally reserved for 
charter service or such distinguished tasks as trans- 
porting dignitaries from the Capital to the Naval 
Academy. Howard E. Johnston Collection. 

A three-car Washington-Baltimore train 
descended into Pratt Street at Baltimore 
from the B&O overcrossing three days be- 
fore abandonment in 1935. The two steel 
passenger cars that headed the train then 
moved west to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, 
where they served for better than 20 yean 
more. James P. Shuman, from William 
Moedinger Jr. 


By Short Line to the Severn Shore 

WB&A's direct North Shore route from Balti- 
more to Annapolis originally opened in 1887 as the 
steam-propelled Annapolis & Baltimore Short Line. 
Electrified by the Maryland Electric Railways in 
1908, the Short Line was merged into WB&A in 
1921. When the bankrupt WB&A was sold at public 
auction on the courthouse lawn in Annapolis in 
1935, bondholders of the old Short Line bought it 
back, reorganized it as the Baltimore & Annapolis 
Railroad, and continued to operate the electric cars 
until 1950. 

On a June afternoon in 1948 B&A combine No. 94 
rolled across a placid arm of the Severn River estuary 
into the Annapolis terminal. The much-rebuilt 
Wason interurban, originally a center-entrance car, 
was acquired by the predecessor Short Line in 1914, 
when SL junked its A.C. system in favor of 1200- 
volt D.C. power. William D. Middleton. 

Initial electric service over 
the Short Line was operated 
with substantial wooden 
equipment manufactured 
by the Southern Car Com- 
pany at High Point, N. C. 
Because of the cumber- 
some transformers and com- 
plicated controls required 
for the company's 6600- 
volt A.C. power system the 
cars were remarkably 
heavy, weighing all of 50 
tons. A train, made up 
of two of the ponderous 
coaches and a pair of 
trailers evidently dating 
from the Short Line's steam 
days, was photographed at 
Annapolis in the charge 
of a handsomely mous- 
tachioed conductor. 
O. F. Lee Collection. 



t I 

i, Tl- 

fex. -^, 

With express and mail piled high on the front platform, B&A car No. 205 approached 
the Linthicum Heights station in 1949 on the way to Annapolis. William D. Middleton. 

When the B&A went on its own in 1935 trolley wire was strung over the Baltimore & 
Ohio main line and the electric cars began operating into the B&O's Camden Station at Bal- 
timore. In 1949 car No. 94 negotiated the specialwork at Carroll Tower to leave the 
B&O main and head south on single track to Annapolis. William D. Middleton. 

The clanging of the crossing bell was muted by a wet, clinging snow as a southbound two- 
car B&A train rolled through Linthicum Heights in December 1948. Edward J. Melanson. 





fc. n v t, t— ~ 

Until 1954 the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway, under Potomac Edi- 
son control, maintained the last of its once extensive passenger opera- 
tion, a service which wandered 18 miles north from Frederick to 
Thurmont, where connections were made with n'ntinline trains of the 
Western Maryland Railway. Combine No. 171 met the Western 
Maryland local from Baltimore in 1932 (above) and then headed 
south to Frederick (below). Both Photos: John Stern. 

Ready for the 25-mile run to Clarksburg, an orange Jewett interurban peered out 
from the gloom of the Monongahela-W est Penn Public Service Company's inter- 
urban terminal at Weston, W. Va., in 1941. Monongahela Valley passenger opera- 
tion by the company continued until after World War II. Howard E. Johnston. 



V* tefcKfc 








/« j heavily wooded setting a lightweight Cincinnati interurban and a much older wooden Jewett 
combine met at Philadelphia siding on Monongahela-W est Penn's Clarksburg-W eston line in 1946. 
By this time the cars were being operated by the City Lines of West Virginia. John F. Horan. 

Electric Cars in the Old Dominion 

In its time the Washington & Old Dominion Rail- 
way provided such amenities as extra-fare, open- 
platform observation cars and porter service on its 
trains which operated some 52 miles up the Potomac 
Valley from Georgetown, D. C, to the Blue Ridge 
foothills at Bluemont over the rails of a former 
Southern Railway System branch, acquired and elec- 

trified by the W&OD in 1912. Another W&OD line 
carried excursionists to the Great Falls of the Po- 
tomac, north of Washington. Service on this line, 
it was said, tended to be casual. In 1916 company of- 
ficials were obliged to reprimand a motorman who 
carried a shotgun on the front platform and took 
potshots through the open front window at rabbits 
which were lured onto the rails by the headlight 

An Old Dominion local, having transported mail, express, and a few passengers to the communities 
along the way, unloaded at its Bluemont terminal in 1937. The crack Loudon Limited of earlier days 
stopped only at a few points of unquestioned importance along the line. E. E. EDWARDS. 

To the consternation of motorists on U. S. highways 19 and 21, this interurban 
made an abrupt ISO-degree turn, crossing and recrossing the pavement, to gain 
access to its bridge across the Norfolk & Western main line at Bluefield, W. Va., 
on the Tri-City Traction Company's interurban run to nearby Princeton. Beneath 
the skirting and fanciful striping, car No. 120 was just another curved-side Cin- 
cinnati lightweight. The cars continued to operate over the 12-mile line for an- 
other seven years after this photograph was taken in 1940. Stephen D. Maguire. 


The Norfolk & Southern Railway, a 
steam road, operated a short interur- 
ban line from Norfolk to Cape Henry 
and the resorts of Virginia Beach. 
Combine No. 45, with an open trailer 
in tow, waited on the Virginia Beach 
wye about 1905. Gasoline rail 
buses took over the service in 1935. 
Allan H. Berner Collection. 

White-collar Federal office workers 
and tourists alike flocked aboard the 
cars of the Washington, Alexandria & 
Mt. Vernon Railway, later the Wash- 
ington-Virginia Railway. This early 
train, northbound at Potomac Park, 
was jammed to the platforms. 
LeRoy O. King Collection. 

Such features as pantographs, 
catenary overhead, and heavy 
cars like combine No. 101 seemed 
a little out of place on the Rich- 
mond & Chesapeake Bay Rail- 
way, a 6600-volt A.C. line which 
operated all of 14 miles of track 
from Richmond to Ashland, Va. 
hater on the railway was con- 
verted to direct current power 
and more appropriate subur- 
ban cars were acquired for the 
service. General Electric 


Unique among interurbans was the W ashington- 
Virginia's parlor car Mount Vernon, aboard which 
countless thousands rode in princely splendor to 
view the Washington estate and tomb. Built by the 
St. Louis Car Company in 1904 as the Mabel, the car 
was originally owned by the Lewis Publishing 
Company, publishers of Woman's Magazine and 
Woman's Farm Journal, and was employed for the 
entertainment of company friends atui visitors 
during the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Ex- 
position. One compartment was furnished as a 

parlor, with a handsomely carved settee in the center, 
tastefully upholstered in a fine yellow fabric har- 
monizing with the ceiling, curtains, and portieres, 
which were pea green. Upholstered chairs and an 
inlaid mahogany desk completed the parlor furnish- 
ings. A smoker section and a completely equipped 
buffet were installed in the opposite end of the car. 
The elegant Mount Vernon posed for this pho- 
tograph outside the railway's Four Mile Run 
carhouse in 1923. Howard E. Johnston 

Catenary in the Carolinas 

Carolina utility and tobacco tycoon James Bu- 
chanan "Buck" Duke, founder of such diverse in- 
stitutions as the Duke Power Company, Duke Uni- 
versity, the Duke Endowment, and the American 
Tobacco Company "Tobacco Trust," added a high 
class interurban to the list shortly before World War 
I. Duke's electric line, the Piedmont & Northern 
Railway, actually consisted of two physically isolated 
divisions, totaling 130 route miles in length, which 
extended from Greenwood to Spartanburg, S. C, and 
from Gastonia to Charlotte, N. C. Plans to close the 
51-mile "missing link" between the two divisions, 
and to undertake ambitious extension projects to 
Winston-Salem and Durham, were temporarily de- 
layed by World War I and the need for major 
postwar rehabilitation after the disaster of Federal 
control. Ready to go again in 1927, P&N announced 
that work was "about to begin," only to be thwarted 
once more, this time by the Interstate Commerce 
Commission, which claimed jurisdiction over the 
new construction under the 1920 Transportation Act 
and denied permission. Claiming exemption from 
I.C.C. control as an interurban, Piedmont & North- 
ern fought all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court 
before finally giving up the fruitless battle in 
1930. 1 

Piedmont & 
founder and 
tobacco tycoon 
James Buchan- 
an "Buck" 
Duke. Pied- 
mont & 

With a uniformed porter in attendance at the step 
box, this two-car P&N train was ready to roll over 
the South Carolina Division. The parlor car Cataw- 
ba, once a handsome open-platform observation 
car, had suffered the installation of this graceless 
solarium rear end in an unfortunate attempt at mod- 
ernization. Piedmont & Northern Railway. 

Headed by combine No. 2101, a two-car 
train roared through a raw cut near Lyman, 
S. C, in 1947. Charles A. Brown. 

A two-car P&N train rolled into Spartanburg, 
at the northernmost end of the South Carolina 
Division, in 1947. Charles A. Brown. 

ib its 1 1 * * K fe 


A prospering textile industry grew up in the Pied- 
mont Carolinas along with the Piedmont & North- 
ern. The railway claimed, without exaggeration, "a 
mill to the mile," and its freight business increased 
as passenger traffic declined. Freight power such as 

118-ton, 16-wheeled GE-built No. 5611, which 
wheeled tonnage through a deep cut near Taylors, 
S. C, in 1947, became the order of the day in the 
final years of the line's electric operation. 
Charles A. Brown. 


Summer homes and cottages at Wrightsville Beach, N. C, were right handy to the 
tracks of the Tidewater Power Company' s 14-mile interurban line to Wilmington. 
The double track roadbed substituted for a street. Car No. 63 rolled along be- 
tween the board sidewalks in November 1938. Robert G. Lewis. 

Atlanta's Georgia Power Company, which operated interurbans to nearby Stone 
Mountain and Marietta, followed the commendable, if rare, practice of naming its 
interurbans after distinguished local personages. Finished in a cheerful red and 
cream livery, the Richard Peters (left) met the A. Stephens Clay on the Marietta 
line in 1942. Fitted with automatic couplers and train doors for multiple-unit 
operation, they were unique among the numerous curved-side lightweights 
turned out by the Cincinnati Car Company. Stephen D. Maguire. 


The Interurban's Midwest Empire 

The North Central States 




For the benefit of the company photographer, one of Cincinnati & Lake Erie's new lightweight 
cars posed at Springfield, O., in 1930 in a classic tableau of trainside activity. Mayfield Photos Inc. 


The Interurban's Midwest Empire 

The North Central States 

1HERE WAS, it has been said with but little 
exaggeration, an interurban line wrapped around 
nearly every Indiana county courthouse. The Mid- 
west was the heartland of the interurban, and here 
it grew in its greatest profusion and purest form. 
Within the five East North Central states of Ohio, 
Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin was con- 
centrated some 7540 miles of interurban railway — 
better than 40 per cent of the U. S. total. Ohio had 
a greater interurban mileage than any state in the 
Union, and Indiana was not far behind. There was 
hardly a major city in either state that was not 
reached by at least one interurban line. The popula- 
tion centers of southern Michigan were laced to- 

gether with an equally extensive trolley network. 
Illinois ranked fourth in national interurban mile- 
age, with a network of major lines radiating from 
Chicago and the greatest of all Midwest interur- 
bans — Congressman McKinley's Illinois Traction 
System — slicing through central Illinois from St. 
Louis to the Indiana border. Wisconsin alone among 
Midwestern states east of the Mississippi lacked 
broad electric railway development, but among the 
few Dairyland interurbans was one of the finest 
systems of the entire Midwest. West of the Mississip- 
pi Midwestern interurban development was less 
frequent, except in Iowa, where flourished some 
of the most successful of all U. S. interurbans. 

An early nighttime photograph at the Springfield (O.) interurban depot recorded 
in dramatic fashion the dashing front end of the Indiana, Columbus & Eastern 
Traction Company's interurban No. 93. Formed in 1906 from several financial- 
ly distressed lines, the IC&E became part of the great Ohio Electric Railway 
system in 1907, went its own way after dismemberment of the OE in 1921, and 
finally became part of the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad. O. F. Lee Collection. 



Among electric railway historians are some 
who regard the Akron, Bedford & Cleve- 
land Railroad as the first real interurban. 
Certainly the company's 35-mile line between 
Cleveland and Akron, opened in 1895, two 
years after the pioneer Oregon City interurhan, 
was among the earliest of the major interur- 
han systems. Shortly after the turn of the 
century the AB&C became part of the Everett- 
Moore syndicate's Northern Ohio Traction & 
Light Company that ultimately expanded into 
one of the major Ohio electric railways, with 
street and interurban railway operations 
throughout much of northeastern Ohio. 
Workmen at the Canton carbarn posed about 
1910 with an assorted line-up of Northern 
Ohio city and interurban equipment. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


Despite phenomenal depression deficits the Lake Shore 
Electric Railway, one of the most important Ohio in- 
terurhans, managed to keep going until 1918, when this 
big Jewett interurban rumbled through the streets of 
Lakewood to Cleveland on the last day of operation. In 
more prosperous days LSE did a big excursion business 
to the numerous Lake Erie resorts along its route from 
Cleveland to Toledo, and through cars transported long- 
distance passengers all the way to Lima and Detroit over 
connecting electric lines. G. R. Boeddener. 

The trainshed in this 1926 scene is at 
the Northern Ohio's then new Akron 
terminal. The motor bus connection 
operated a direct service to Youngs- 
town, which could be reached from 
Akron only by roundabout interur- 
ban travel. Dudley S. Weaver 


Aside from the Ohio Electric system, Ohio's larg- 
est interurban was the Cleveland, Southwestern & 
Columbus Railway, which operated a total of 217 
miles of track emanating from Cleveland to Wooster, 
Bucyrus, and Norwalk. The "Green Line" operated 
its route to Norwalk in spirited competition with 
the Lake Shore Electric Railway, which also reached 
the city from Cleveland. The rivalry led to a re- 
markable race between the two interurbans on 
December 11, 1903, when a Norwalk group char- 
tered two electric cars, one from each line, for an 
excursion to Cleveland. Each of the lines made 

elaborate preparations for the race, and the chartered 
cars were given right of way over all other move- 
ments. The Southwestern car reached Cleveland 
first, requiring only an hour and a half for the 58- 
mile trip, 45 minutes faster than regular limited 
schedules. Delayed by a broken wire, the LSE car 
lost the race, although its actual running time ex- 
cluding the delay was 10 minutes better. Ultimately, 
the Lake Shore's faster line won out over the South- 
western, and the "Green Line" cut its route back 
to Oberlin in 1924. This wrote finis to a traction ver- 
sion of the Broadway vs. Century races. 

Among the few steel cars operated by the Southwestern were a half dozen of these heavy 37- 
ton, 62-foot cars of a design peculiar to the G. C. Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland, 
which manufactured them in 1919 for service on the company's Southern Division. Freshly 
rebuilt as a parlor car and finished in new orange, blue, and ivory colors. No. 205 operated 
in limited train service from Cleveland to Mansfield and Galion. O. F. Lee Collection. 

In an early scene at Seville Junction on the Southwestern 's Southern Division, a limited car is en route to 
Cleveland from Bucyrus, where the company made a connection for Columbus. Max E. Wilcox Collection. 

Ohio's only third-rail electric line, the Scioto Valley Traction Company, op- 
erated interurban routes constructed to exceptionally high standards from 
Columbus to Lancaster and Chillicothe. Original equipment for the "Valley 
Route," such as 1903 American Car & Foundry coach 104, was of remarkably 
simple lines for a time when interurban car design tended to the ornate. The 
60-foot wooden coach seated 71 on plain cane-upholstered seats. Later on, Sci- 
oto Valley Traction bought heavy steel cars and during the last few years of pas- 
senger operation provided several parlor car limited schedules on both of its lines. 

O. F. Lee Collection. 




m si 





Operating over one of the few stretches of 
electric railway actually constructed by the 
company, a southbound Ohio Electric 
Toledo-Lima local loaded passengers on 
Keyser Avenue in Deshler, O., in 1910. 
John A. Rehor Collection. 

Flanges squealed as this Ohio Electric ivood 
combine negotiated abrupt track curvature 
in the streets of Zanesville, O. The 
car was characteristic of hundreds of 
its contemporaries on the interurban prop- 
erties of the Midwestern states. Ste- 
phen D. Maguire Collection. 

Largest of all the Ohio interurbans, for a rela- 
tively brief period at least, was the Ohio Electric 
Railway system organized in 1907 by the Schoepf- 
McGowan syndicate, which by leases and new con- 
struction assembled a network of over 600 miles ex- 
tending from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, west- 

ward to Richmond and Fort Wayne, Ind., and as 
far east as Zanesville, O. In the years following 
World War I the financially distressed OE system 
began to fall apart, and by 1921 all of its various 
predecessor companies had resumed independent 


Red Devils in the Buckeye State 

Beginning with the reorganization of the bank- 
rupt Cincinnati & Dayton Traction Company as the 
Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway in 1926, the 
principal lines of the dismembered Ohio Electric 
Railway system were reassembled by a group headed 
by Dr. Thomas Conway Jr. The CH&D was liberal- 
ly rebuilt, new equipment was purchased, and a 
greatly expanded freight service developed. In 1930 
CH&D was joined with the Indiana, Columbus & 
Eastern Traction Company and the Lima-Toledo 
Railroad, both former OE lines, to form the Cin- 
cinnati & Lake Erie Railroad, which extended from 
Cincinnati to Toledo, with a branch from Spring- 

field to Columbus, and from 1931 to 1936 operated 
the Dayton & Western Traction Company. Twenty 
splendid lightweight, high-speed cars were acquired 
for new limited services, and such innovations as 
rail-highway containers were adopted for the sys- 
tem's important l.c.l. freight operation. Until aban- 
donment of the Eastern Michigan-Toledo Railway in 
1932, such C&LE limiteds as the Meteor, the Ar- 
roivhead, and the Rocket operated in through Cin- 
cinnati-Detroit service three times daily, and ex- 
tensive through freight services were operated with 
connecting electric lines. The C&LE experiment 
only proved the hopelessness of the interurbans' 
plight; by 1932 the system was in receivership and 
by 1939 its interurban lines were entirely abandoned. 

This most famous of all Cincinnati & Lake Erie photographs depicted high-speed 
interurban No. 126 during the course of a race with an airplane staged for news- 
reel cameras near Dayton in July 1930. The Cincinnati-built car attained a 
reputed speed of 97 miles per hour to outdistance the plane. This and similar 
publicity stunts served to introduce the new C&LE system to Ohioans in dra- 
matic fashion. Mayfield Photos Inc. 

Medium-weight equipment delivered by the G. C, Kuhlman Car Company in 1927 for the Conway rehabili- 


tation of Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton made up a three-car C&LE train. George Krambles Collection. 


"The comfortable car goes kiting 
along sounding a fish-horn blast like 
schooners on the Grand Banks," wrote 
Christopher Morley of a trip over 
the "Red Electric." A "Red Devil" 
sped southbound on a Cincinnati 
Limited schedule in 1937. Alfred 
Seibel, from Jeffrey K. Winslow 

The most important of the several con- 
necting lines between the electric systems 
of Ohio and Indiana was the Dayton & 
Western Traction Company, a link in a 
direct route between Dayton and Indian- 
apolis. During the company's existence 
it was variously under control of the 
Ohio Electric Railway, the Cincinnati & 
Lake Erie, and finally the Indiana Railroad, 
with a few periods of independent op- 
eration. This freshly overhauled train was 
some of the equipment employed in the 
company's through Buckeye Special and 
Hoosier Special service between Dayton and 
Indianapolis, operated jointly with the 
connecting Terre Haute, Indianapolis & 
Eastern. O. F. Lee Collection. 





Among the more obscure Ohio interurbans was 
the Hoc king-Sunday Creek Traction Company, 
operating a I 5-mile line between Athens and 
Nelsonville in the coal country of southeastern 
Ohio. A planned extension to a junction with the 
Scioto Valley Traction Company at Lancaster never 
materialized, and the little line remained isolated 
from the remainder of the state s electric railway 
network. Unlike the majority of Midwestern in- 
terurbans, the company employed equipment of the 
street railway type. No. 14, on a trestle midway 
between the two terminals, was typical. Charles 
Goethe Collection. 

Toledo, with no less than 10 inter urban lines radiat- 
ing in every direction, was among the leading Mid- 
western interurban centers. Longest lived of the 
Toledo lines, and indeed, one of the most enduring 
of all Ohio interurbans, was Toledo, Port Clinton & 
Lakeside Railway. TPC&L extended eastward on the 
Marblehead peninsula to Marblehead and Bay Point, 
where a connection was made with Lake Erie steam- 
ers operating to the Cedar Point resort and Sandus- 
ky. Remnants of the system survived until 1958 as 
the freight-only Toledo & Eastern Railroad. When 
Niles coach No. 6 was photographed at Port Clinton 
in the late '30's, the company was known as the 
Ohio Public Service Company. Hayden Alford 


The exquisitely furnished and detailed Martha, Union 
Tractions official car, was employed only for the most im- 
portant of occasions. O. F. Lee Collection. 

Rarely was interurban equipment more magnificent than 
that of Union Tractions Hoosierland of 1925, headed by 
the new steel combine Fort Wayne, finished in a deep red. 

O. F. Lee Collection. 

Stately Cars in Hoosierland 

The first — and the largest — of the great Indiana 
interurban systems was that of the Union Traction 
Company, which operated over 400 miles of line 
in central Indiana radiating northeast and north 
from Indianapolis. The Union Traction system 
was initially conceived by Charles L. Henry of 
Anderson, the "father of the interurban," who de- 
veloped plans for an interurban linking Anderson 
with Muncie, Marion, and Indianapolis in 1892. 
The panic of 1893 prevented the immediate start of 
construction, and it was not until 1898 that the first 
car operated over 11 miles of track between Ander- 
son and Alexandria. The initial cars developed by 
Union Traction largely established the arrangement 
that was to become typical of Midwestern inter- 
urban equipment, and the company was among the 
first (in 1913) to acquire all-steel equipment. The 
company's powerhouse at Anderson was the first 
to employ a three-phase distribution system. Power 
was generated and distributed from Anderson at 
15,000 volts to substations about 12 miles apart, 
where transformers and rotary converters changed 
it to 600-volt D.C. for the trolley wire, an arrange- 
ment that was to become virtually standard for in- 
terurban operation. Parlor-buffet cars were provided 
on a few of the chief Union Traction routes, 
and the company's timecard listed such memorable 
interurban name trains as the Marion Flyer, the 
Kokomo Traveler, and the Muncie Meteor. 



The Indianapolis & Louisville Traction Company, which formed the Seymour-Sellersburg (hid.) link 
in the route between the two cities, was the first interurban to actually begin operation with the 
newly developed 1200-volt D.C. electrification system. Since equipment of the other two lines in 
the route was capable of operation on 600-volt current only, Indianapolis & Louisville Traction 
cars were used exclusively for the celebrated Dixie Flyer and Hoosier Flyer through limited sched- 
ules installed in 1908. Niles interurbans provided the initial service. General Electric Company. 

Late in 1907, with the completion of the Indianap- 
olis & Louisville Traction Company, a through in- 
terurban routing over the rails of three independent 
electric lines became available between the two 
cities. The southernmost portion of the route rep- 

resented one of utilities baron Samuel Insull's first 
ventures into electric railways, and by 1912 Insull 
had acquired control of the entire route, which then 
became known as the Interstate Public Service 

In Dixie Flyer service, this Interstate train included a Cincinnati combine and the 
parlor-buffet car Jeffersonville. O. F. Lee Collection. 


nixi k 


-^ •sjf* 




'- - 

; ^**±^\ 

During the '20's the Insull management initiated 
an equipment program for the Interstate that in- 
cluded thorough rebuilding of many existing cars 
and acquisition of some of the finest examples of 
heavy steel interurban car construction ever produced. 
Among them ivere a half dozen parlor-buffet cars 
which operated five daily round trips on the Dixie 
and Hoosier Flyers, and three sleepers for an over- 
night service between Indianapolis and Louisville. 
Since it was hardly possible to spend the entire night 
on the 117-mile journey, the sleepers were placed in 
sidings along the route during the night and brought 
into the terminals on the first train in the morning. 
A new steel combine, a rebuilt coach, a sleeper, and 
a parlor-buffet car respectively were included in 
the line-up for this publicity photograph. O. F. Lee 

In 1925 the large traction holdings of the Insull in- 
terests in northern and central Indiana were further 
expanded with the purchase of the Indiana Service 
Corporation. In common with other Insull inter- 
urban acquisitions, ISC received extensive improve- 
ments, including heavy steel cars to re-equip prin- 
cipal schedules. Among them were the magnificent 
cars in this 1926 photograph. Both the combine and 
the parlor-buffet car Little Turtle, newly delivered 
by the St. Louis Car Company, were employed in 
the Wabash Valley Flyer service operated between 
Fort Wayne and Indianapolis via Peru in conjunc- 
tion with the Union Traction Company. IT pro- 
vided equivalent equipment for the similar jointly 
operated Hoosierland service via Bluff ton. These 
and other imperious ISC "flyer" schedules deigned 
to stop only at county seats and points of similar 
importance. George Krambles Collection. 


The oldest portion of the Indianapolis-Louisville 
route was the Indianapolis, Columbus & Southern 
Traction Company, which on the first day of the 
new century had operated the first interurban car 
ever to reach Indianapolis. The triumphal arrival 
was not without difficulty, for the big interurban 
proved to be too wide to clear the overhead poles 
located in the center of the street. In order to squeeze 

the car by, workmen had to remove its handrails, 
and passengers were obliged to shift to the far side 
of the car. Further complications arose when the in- 
terurban reached the Belt Railroad. The car was 
forced to jump the rails, since the crossing had not 
yet been installed. The company's No. 21, a hand- 
some Pullman green coach, is shown in Indianapolis 
streets. William D. Middleton Collection. 

Less altered than most cars under the THI&E modernization program was No. 29, the Hendricks, seen 

taking the curve at Market and Capitol in Indianapolis. Despite scuffs and abrasions of long years of 

service, the car still bore an air of dignity lent by the classic Gothic lines of its Cincinnati builders. 

Jeffrey K. Winslow Collection. 


Most interurbans were constructed for motives of 
profit to their stockholders, hut the Winona Inter- 
urban Railway , which operated between Goshen 
and Peru, Ind., was devoted to more lofty objectives. 
The railway was constructed by the Winona As- 
sembly and Summer School Session, and its profits 
went to the operation of a trade school for the ed- 
ucation of underprivileged children. During the 
company's early years its hidebound directors re- 
fused to operate on Sundays, and not until bond- 

holders brought suit, alleging that the policy had 
caused the road to fail to meet interest payments, 
did they relent. To operate a new Goshen-lndian- 
apolis through service with the Union Traction 
Company in 1910, the Winona acquired a pair of 
named wooden Jewett interurbans of the parabolic- 
nosed "u'indsplitter" design. The Warsaw is shown 
here stuck tight in drifts not far from its name- 
sake city during the big snow of 1918. Van Dusen 

Among Indiana interurbans the Terre Haute, In- 
dianapolis & Eastern Traction Company was second 
in size only to Union Traction. Formation of 
THI&E was begun in 1907, and by the time the 
system was completed in 1912, its lines extended 
from Paris, 111., across central Indiana almost to the 
Ohio border. The Terre Haute-Paris branch fell 
only 20 miles short of a connection with William B. 
McKinley's Illinois Traction System, which would 
have permitted continuous electric travel all the 
way to St. Louis and Peoria, but the break was 
never closed. A plan for a more direct connecting 
line from Crawfordsville to Danville, 111., also was 
unfulfilled, although the idea was kept alive until 
as late as 1928. Never a particularly profitable in- 

terurban, THI&E was unable to follow the example 
of the other major Indiana electrics, which invested 
in heavy steel rolling stock for their principal sched- 
ules during the '20's. Instead, the company began 
a sweeping modernization program for its hetero- 
geneous roster of elderly wooden rolling stock for 
service on such celebrated THI&E limiteds as the 
Highlander, the Tecutnseh Arrow, and the Ben-Hur 
Special, the last named for the protagonist of the 
famous novel written by Gen. Lew Wallace of Craw- 
fordsville. A splashy chrome yellow and black col- 
or scheme was applied and the cars were given 
names selected to honor the territory served, its in- 
stitutions, distinguished historical figures, and oc- 
casionally a deceased company executive. 

The abrupt decline of the Indiana interurbans 
during the latter part of the '20's presented Samuel 
Insull's Midland United Corporation with an op- 
portunity to carry forward a grand plan for a uni- 
fied Indiana interurban network. The earliest Insull 
interest in Hoosier traction properties dated to 1903, 
but not until the mid-'20's were his Indiana hold- 
ings greatly expanded. Union Traction went into 
receivership in 1925, and after acquiring the system 
for a bargain price in 1930, Midland United was able 
to use it as the heart of a consolidation of the Insull 
lines into the remarkable Indiana Railroad system. 
The lines of the Indiana Service Corporation and 
the Northern Indiana Power Company extended 
IRR domination throughout much of north central 
Indiana and to points north of Fort Wayne, and the 
Indianapolis-Louisville line of the Interstate carried 
the new system to the Ohio River. The Fort Wayne- 
Lima Railroad was operated under IRR supervision, 
but remained independent. The purchase of the 
bankrupt THI&E in 1931 added trackage extending 
across the breadth of central Indiana, and for a few 
years after 1936 the lease of the Dayton & Western 
carried IRR into Ohio. 

An ambitious program was evolved for modern- 
ization of the Indiana system. Weak and clearly 
hopeless lines were abandoned forthwith, while 
major improvements were planned for those which 
were thought to have a future. New equipment, 
track and power improvements, belt lines and re- 
routings, and reduction of excessive curves and 
grades were all part of the contemplated program. 
An ultimate aim of IRR management was to 
straighten and improve the system's major trunk 
routes to permit the operation of standard steam rail- 
road freight equipment. The most immediate IRR 
improvements were new schedules that were better 
co-ordinated than those of the previously independ- 
ent companies, and by the summer of 1931 a million- 
dollar investment in 35 magnificent lightweight, 

In depression times IRR traffic was only rarely suf- 
ficient to require multiple-unit operation of the line's 
lightweight cars. A three-car train was photographed 
at Rock Cut, west of Greencastle, on a railroad en- 
thusiast excursion. George Krambles Collection. 

high-speed cars went into service on the principal In- 
dianapolis-Louisville and Indianapolis-Fort Wayne 
lines. Another half million was spent for power sup- 
ply and track improvements on the same lines. 
Freight traffic was aggressively solicited, and in 1933 
drastic passenger fare reductions were made. In 
1936 older steel equipment was refurbished and con- 
verted to one-man operation. 

But modernization of the Indiana system started 
too late. Even as the system was being formed 
the nation was plunging into a deepening depres- 
sion. The Insull utilities empire collapsed in 1932, 
before the needed Indiana Railroad improvements 
had barely been started. By 1933 the IRR was in 
receivership, and only once in its existence — in 
1936 — did the system show a profit. From a brief 
peak of over 800 miles of track Indiana Railroad 
mileage rapidly declined as line after line was given 
up, and after barely a decade of operation the last 
IRR passenger service was ended in 1941, on the 
eve of World War II. 



Southbound to Louisville as the Dixie Flyer, In- 
diana Railroad lightweight No. 68 took a sharp 
curve at Sellersburg, a few miles north of the Ohio 
River. Barney Neuberger Collection. 


In 1935 IRR secured two Railway Post Office contracts, between Fort Wayne-New 
Castle and Indianapolis-Peru, given up by the Nickel Plate Railroad. To operate 
the service four former Indiana Service Corporation combines were rebuilt with 
RPO compartments. A fan excursion brought the 376 to the White River 
bridge near Anderson. The Union Traction name was still visible on the bridge. 


The company's glittering parlor car 7500, available for official duties or charter service, was 
fitted with deep solarium windows at the front end and this elegant observation platform 
at the rear. George Krambles Collection. 

Detroit United's finest line was the Detroit, Mon- 
roe & Toledo Short Line, built with a maximum 
grade of 1 per cent and standards of curvature 
which obviated speed restrictions. The line was well 
graded and track was laid with 70-pound rail and 
rock ballast. About half of the route was double 
tracked, and grade crossings with other railways 
were avoided. Beginning in 1911 frequent through 
limited service was operated between Detroit and 
Cleveland over the connecting Lake Shore Electric 
Railway, and for a few years after 1930 through 
Detroit-Cincinnati cars were operated with the new 
C&LE. Rebuilt Kuhlman steel car 8005 was operated 
in a de luxe, reserved-seat chair-car service between 
Detroit and Toledo installed during the mid-'20's. 
George Krambles Collection. 

The large interurban system of the Detroit 
United Railways, which was assembled in 1901 by 
the Everett-Moore syndicate from a wide variety of 
predecessor companies, radiated from the city in all 
directions and even had a Canadian affiliate, the 
Sandwich, Windsor & Amherstburg Railway, which 
operated along the Ontario shore of the Detroit 
River. Detroit was one of the earliest traction cen- 
ters, and almost all of its interurban lines were built 
in the '90's or the first few years of the new century. 
Detroit also, of course, became one of the early 
automobile centers, and its interurbans turned out 
to be some of the first casualties among major Mid- 
western systems. 

Detroit United car 7794 made a special trip over branch-line trackage which was an extreme example of 
the meandering, hill-and-dale, roadside variety of interurban construction. BARNEY NEl'BERGER Collection. 


In the areas west and north of the territory served 
by the Detroit United system, extensive interurban 
operations were conducted by the Michigan Rail- 
ways system, whose main routes north from Flint 
and Jackson, and west from Jackson, served as ex- 
tensions of the Detroit system. The company, whose 
corporate structure and history were among the 
most involved in Midwestern traction, was distin- 
guished by a large mileage of third-rail track and 
by some notable — though generally unsuccessful — 
experiments in high voltage, direct current systems. 
Several of the Michigan Railways' main routes 
were constructed to some of the highest standards 
in the industry, and the company was among the 
earliest to make wide use of steel equipment. At 
one time the Michigan Railways entertained am- 
bitions of an electric line across the state connecting 
Kalamazoo with a Lake Michigan port or, even bet- 
ter, with Chicago. For this purpose the company in 
1911 leased a steam railroad, the Kalamazoo, Lake 
Shore & Chicago, which reached South Haven on 
Lake Michigan and connected with the Benton Har- 
bor-St. Joe interurban at Paw Paw Lake Junction. 
Plans to electrify the line were never carried out, 
and after five years of operation with steam equip- 
ment, the lease was given up. 

These splendid Niles interurbans were operated by Michigan Railways in through Bay City- 
Detroit service. From Bay City to Flint the journey was made over the company's Northeast- 
ern Division, which employed both overhead trolley and third-rail power distribution, while the 
remainder of the trip was made over Detroit United rails. George Krambles Collection. 

One of the most magnificently engineered lines 
of the interurban era was the Michigan Railways' 
Western Division, which opened a 50-mile main 
line between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids in 1915. 
Track was built on a 100-foot-wide private right 
of way and laid with 80-pound rail, with a maximum 
curvature of 3 degrees and maximum grades of 1 
per cent. Rural portions of the line were provided 
with a unique 2400-volt D.C. third-rail system. So 
extreme was the resulting safety hazard that passen- 
gers at way stations were loaded from enclosed floor 
level "safety platforms" which have been described 
as reminiscent of cattle pens. Conductors unlocked 
a switch lock to drop the front side of the en- 
closure, which formed a bridge between the plat- 
form and the car floor for boarding passengers. Even 
more serious were the frequent cases of an arc 
striking from the third rail to journal boxes. 

This burned away the box and then the end of 
the axle. To extinguish the arc motormen laid a 
metal bar between the third rail and a running rail, 
which short-circuited the power feed and tripped 
the substation breakers, killing the power supply on 
the line. After a year of such difficulties, the line 
was converted to 1200-volt power. A 44-mile branch 
between Allegan and Battle Creek, purchased from 
the Michigan Central, was similarly electrified. The 
Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids main line was designed 
for maximum speeds of 90 miles per hour, and even 
though actual maximum speeds were lower than 
this figure, the line was one of the fastest of all in- 
terurbans. "Flyer" schedules between the two cities 
covered the 50-mile route in 1 hour 10 minutes, 
and for several years during the '20's the company 
was among the top five in the U. S. in the annual 
Electric Traction speed trophy competition. 

On display in Grand Rapids for a 1922 convention is one of the seven huge coach-parlor-obser- 
vation cars delivered in 1914-1915 by the St. Louis Car Company for limited service over the 
Western Division. Weighing 70 tons, and over 67 feet in length, they were the heaviest inter- 
urban cars ever built. Although of all-steel construction, they were provided with scribed 
sides to simulate wood siding. George Krambles Collection. 


^UjW Ct 



The only connection between Michigan and the 
traction network of Indiana was provided by the 
Southern Michigan Railway, which operated from 
South Bend to St. Joseph, Mich. In 1914 the com- 
pany was among those that joined in the operation of 
the new Cannonball Express, an overnight inter- 
urban fast freight which operated between Indian- 

apolis and Benton Harbor, where a connection 
was made with Chicago steamships. Brand new 
from the St. Louis Car Company, interurban No. 304 
passed through Niles, Mich., in 1906 on one of the 
first through trips over the newly completed line 
between South Bend and St. Joseph. George 
Krambles Collection. 

- -J 


**»gv^ v.^a 

The Rock Island Southern Railway, whose main 
line between Rock Island and Monmouth, III., 
opened in 1910, employed steam power for freight 
trains, but the W'estinghouse single-phase alternat- 
ing current system was installed for passenger trains. 
RIS was the last interurban to begin operation with 
an alternating current poiver system, which by this 
time had proven considerably less satisfactory than 

the direct current systems then available. Six big 
Niles "Electric Pullmans," acquired secondhand 
from Washington, Haiti more & Annapolis, operated 
the infrequent passenger schedules. Here, one of 
them crosses the Pope Creek trestle. The electrifica 
lion was junked in 1926, but steam freight opera- 
tion continued for another quarter century. Wil- 
liam D. Miudleton Collection. 


To Green and Rural Places 

Among the finest of Midwest traction properties 
was the elaborate system of The Milwaukee Elec- 
tric Railway & Light Company, which between 1896 
and 1909 constructed some 200 miles of high-speed 
interurban routes running from Milwaukee to Ke- 
nosha, Burlington, East Troy, and Watertown, Wis. 
The Milwaukee Northern Railway, which com- 
pleted a line north along Lake Michigan to Sheboy- 
gan in 1908, was merged with TMER&L in 1928. 

Projected Milwaukee Electric extensions to Chi- 
cago, Lake Geneva, Beloit, Madison, and Fond du 
Lac were never built; instead, most were eventually 
reached with joint rail-bus services. In 1922 the 
company began a massive improvement program for 
its interurban lines, expending in the vicinity of 
6 million dollars before the depression finally halted 
work. A superb new rapid-transit right of way was 
built for the interurban routes from the west, bring- 
ing them within a few blocks of the company's 
downtown Milwaukee terminal. To the south a new 


The Milwaukee Northern's Lake Shore Limited was 
one of several extra-fare, parlor car limited schedules 
installed by the company in a 1923 burst of com- 
petitive spirit. Close connections were made at Mil- 
waukee with the North Shore Line's parlor and din- 
ing car limited trains to Chicago. With but one 
scheduled stop en route, the MN limiteds covered the 
57 miles to Sheboygan in only 1 hour 39 minutes, 
despite extended street running in Milwaukee. 
State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

Deck-roofed TMER&L interurban No. 1101 
is seen operating on the line to Oconomowoc 
and Water town shortly after the line's con- 
version in 1910 to the 1200-volt D.C. system 
from the unsatisfactory 3300-volt single-phase 
A.C. power supply originally provided. 
During the company's great improvement 
program of the '20's, cars of this type were 
rebuilt into the handsome cars of entirely dis- 
similar appearance shown on the next few 
pages. General Electric Company. 

10 1 2-mile belt line around South Milwaukee and 
Cudahy cut 30 minutes from timings on the route 
to Racine and Kenosha. A similar project on the 
Sheboygan line and a half-mile subway into the 
terminal from the western route were both started 
in 1930 but were never completed. Elsewhere on 
the system the original interurban lines were recon- 
structed with heavier rail and new ballast. Block 
signals were installed and the system's power sup- 
ply improved. Forty-one interurban passenger cars 
were completely rebuilt in company shops, re- 

ceiving new motors, trucks, and controls. Exterior 
appearance of the cars was completely altered, and 
interiors were refinished and fitted with new leather 
bucket seats. Eight secondhand steel cars were 
rebuilt into 84-passenger articulated units, and a 
few new steel cars were purchased or manufactured 
in company shops, including a pair of articulated 
coach-diner units for through limited service be- 
tween Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, and Water- 
town, where a Madison bus connection was 

Work was still under way on the Milwaukee Electric's new rapid-transit route to 
West Junction when this rebuilt motor car and trailer came out of the shops for 
a 1926 inspection trip. Car 1111 was soon nicknamed the Four Aces by crews. 
State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

West of the city proper. Milwaukee Electric interurbans shared their superb rapid-transit right of u.n 
with the company's massive high-tension towers, resulting in some impressive scenes of heavy-duty 
electric railroading. The single car in this scene, 1119, was eastbound at 40th Street in 1948. 
William D. Middleton. 


One of the articulated "duplex" units rebuilt by TMER&L shops from conventional equipment in 1929 
crossed the substantial steel structure that carried the rapid-transit route over the Menomonee River 
and the Milwaukee Road main line. William D. Middleton. 


Among the extensively rebuilt 
Milwaukee Electric inter ur bans 
of the '20's were four of these 
parlor-observation cars for lim- 
ited train service on the Racine- 
Kenosha and Watertown lines. 
The Mendota was rebuilt in 1 924 
from a coach almost identical in 
appearance to that shown on 
page 167. In 1941 the Mendota 
was sold to the London & Port 
Stanley in Ontario, but is now 
back in home territory in the 
ownership of a Chicago histori- 
cal group. To accommodate ex- 
tremes in Great Lakes weather, 
TM cars were fitted with re- 
movable screens and storm 
windows. George Krambles 

Inbound from Hales Corners in 
1949, a Milwaukee Electric in- 
terurban crossed over the 
Chicago & North Western at 
West Junction on a bridge that 
was clearly constructed to accom- 
modate future multiple track. 
The structure was part of a 
mile-long cutoff completed in 
1927 which afforded Burlington 
and East Troy interurbans ac- 
cess to the new rapid-transit 
entry to Milwaukee, cutting 23 
minutes from previous running 
times via city streets. Wil- 
liam D. Middleton. 

The two near tracks west of 
Soldiers Home carried interur- 
ban traffic, while the remainder 
accommodated West Allis local 
cars. The W aukesha-bound car 
appeared in the Milwaukee 
Electric' S bright yellow and 
green postwar color scheme, 
which replaced the more digni- 
fied Pullman green with yellow 
trim of ear Her years. WIL- 
LIAM D. Middleton. 



«mti£ J 

I** I H 

. ■• • Mj 


Southbound from Port Washington on the last 
day of operation of former Milwaukee Northern 
trackage in 1 948, a Milwaukee Electric inter urban 
rumbled across the Milwaukee River bridge near 
Grafton, providing the scene for what is among 
the finest of all Milwaukee Electric photographs. 
These through truss spans were nearly 100 years 
old. They were built in the WW's for the Michi- 
gan Central Railroad and were purchased second- 
hand for $5722 by the MN in 1906. GEORGE 

Following World War II, TMER&L's Waukesha and Hales 
Corners routes, all that remained of the original W atertown, 
East Troy, and Burlington lines, were operated briefly by 
two bus companies before becoming the Milwaukee Rapid 
Transit & Speedrail Company in 1949. The Speedrail effort 
to rebuild the property into a profitable concern ended 
ignomiuiously with a disastrous wreck in 1950, bankruptcy, 
and final abandonment in 1951. Lightweight cars operated 
most of the schedules under Speedrail management. This 
Cincinnati car departing from the Milwaukee terminal, in- 
terestingly enough, had replaced heavy steel cars on the 
Indianapolis & Southeastern in 1929, which were then re- 
built into articulated units by Milwaukee Electric. After 
passing through the hands of two Ohio companies in the in- 
tervening 20 years, the lightweights turned up in Milwau- 
kee in 1949 to again displace the same heavyweight equip- 
ment. William D. Middleton. 


:. w rtti 

This particularly attractive interurban, built by Cin- 
cinnati in 1908, operated over the Sheboygan Light, Pow- 
er & Railway Company's interurban line to Plymouth 
and Elkhart Lake, the northernmost point from Chicago 
that could be reached by continuous electric travel. The 
photograph was taken at the Sheboygan depot. Frank E. 
Butts Collection. 

Traction on the Iron Range 

One of Greyhound's earliest victims was the 
little-known Mesaba Electric Railway, which 
opened a 35-mile line across the Missabe Range 
of northern Minnesota in 1913. The well- 
constructed line between Hibbing and Gil- 
bert employed 70-pound rail and gravel bal- 
last, and cars were provided with a cab signal 
system. In deference to the Minnesota winters, 
the composite wood and steel cars delivered 
by Niles were built with double side walls 
artel fitted with storm sash. Unfortunately, the 
small livery service that was the earliest 
forerunner of the Greyhound Lines bus sys- 
tem got its start in Hibbing only a year after 
the Mesaba Railway opened and no doubt was 
a factor in the interurban' s early demise 
in 1927. Franklin A. King Collection. 

Twin City Rapid Transit's half dozen express 
steamers, like almost all of its passenger cars, 
were built in the Snelling shops. As can be 
seen in this photograph of the Hopkins, cabin 
design on the steamers bore a family resem- 
blance to that of the company's electric cars. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

In addition to purely streetcar services in Minnesota's twin 
cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Twin City Rapid 
Transit Company operated interurban routes to White 
Bear Lake, Stillwater, and Lake Minnetonka, where the cars 
connected with the company's express steamer service to 
points on the lake. Interurban cars built for the lines in the 
company's Snelling shops were identical in appearance to 
its city cars, but interurban trucks and motors enabled them 
to attain mile-a-minute speeds with ease. In 1906 a Twin 
City interurban, shown at Excelsior on the Lake Min- 
netonka line, was rebuilt as a double-deck car, rare in North 
American electric railway practice. The experiment met 
with only indifferent success and the second story was re- 
moved about 1909. Bromley Collection, Minneapolis 

Public Library. 



.N»" ' •>.♦ . >vtv 


In an earlier, more prosperous time passen- 
gers on the predecessor lines of the Clinton, 
Davenport & Muscatine rode in big wooden 
cars of traditional pattern, and such attractions 
as joint interurban-Mississippi River steamer 
excursions, with an observation car trip 
through Davenport, Moline, and Rock Island 
thrown in, drew a big business. Long before 
this car was photographed in 193S climbing 
out of the /Mississippi Valley westbound from 
Davenport to Muscatine, declining traffic had 
forced the CD&A1 to adopt the economies of 
lightweight, one-man cars, which were no 
more than old Davenport city cars, rebuilt and 
souped up for interurban service. Paul 

Land of the Steam Road Trolleys 

Unique among Midwestern electric railways were 
the Iowa interurbans. Some had originally been 
steam short lines and others developed as connec- 
tions too, complementing the steam railroad net 
more than they competed with it. The steam line- 
interurban relationship was usually, therefore, a 
more cordial one than elsewhere in the Midwest, 
and carload freight traffic, freely interchanged with 
the trunk lines, was substantial from the very be- 
ginnings of the Iowa interurbans, a major factor in 
their remarkable longevity. Almost half of them 
continued to operate passenger service until well 
after World War II, and a majority remained active 
as freight-only short lines in 1961. 


Bearing green flags 
for a following sec- 
ond section, this 
Cedar Rapids & Iowa 
City interurban, 
bright in canary yel- 
low with brown and 
red trim, raced south 
to Iowa City in 1950 
beside a row of over- 
head poles that ex- 
tended to the horizon 
of the rolling rural 
landscape. Wil- 
liam D. Middleton. 

Roaring downgrade 
to the Iowa River 
bridge, a Crandic 
"Comet," as the one- 
time C&LE "Red 
Devils" became in- 
formally known in 
their new corn belt 
home, headed north- 
ward to Cedar Rap- 
ids in 1949. Wil- 
liam D. Middleton. 



One of the most prosperous of all the Iowa lines 
was the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway, known 
widely by the "Crandic" abbreviation of its corpo- 
rate title. At one time the company's ambitions ex- 
tended well beyond the two cities named in its 
title. A projected eastern extension to Davenport 
never got beyond Lisbon, 17 miles out of Cedar 
Rapids, but the interurban's bus subsidiary, Crandic 
Stages, ranged from Chicago to Denver with a fleet 
of some 60 buses before it was sold to another bus 

operator. Crandic passenger service achieved its 
greatest distinction after 1939, when the company 
acquired a half dozen of the Cincinnati & Lake 
Erie's notable lightweight, high-speed cars, later 
augmented by a similar Indiana Railroad unit. Dur- 
ing World War II the high-speed cars, aided by 
older wooden equipment, transported the greatest 
passenger traffic in the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City's 
history, reaching a peak of more than 573,000 in 

Before the arrival of its secondhand lightweight equipment, Crandic passenger 

service was maintained by rebuilt wooden cars. Soon after this photograph 

■was taken on the Iowa River bridge during a 1941 excursion, car No. 109, a 

former Southern New York Railway car built by Cincinnati in 1908, was leased 

to the hard-pressed Des Moines & Central Iowa Railroad for wartime service. 

Charles A. Brown. 

During the '40's the CR&IC acquired a variety 
of used freight equipment to accommodate a 
rapidly growing traffic. Seventy-ton locomotive 
No. 13, southbound from Cedar Rapids in 1950, 
was one of two purchased in 1948 from the 
Union Electric Railway, which in turn had ob- 
tained them from the Oklahoma Railway. After 
CR&IC converted to diesel power in 1953, the 
two much-traveled locomotives moved on to 
the Chicago Aurora & Elgin. William D. 

The CR&lC's lone former Indiana Railroad light- 
weight. No. 120, took siding at Oakdale for a north- 
bound ex-C&LE car in 1950. Such meets were fa- 
cilitated by a unique trolley wire switch — developed 
by Crandic master mechanic John Munson — which 
automatically moved with the track switch, elimi- 
nating the need for resetting the trolley pole when 
entering or leaving a siding. William D. 


Long after similar rural operations bad vanished elsewhere, the Charles City Western 
Railway continued to operate two round trips daily from Charles City to nearby Col- 
well (population 122), and to Marble Rock (population 470) where a connection was 
made with Rock Island steam trains. For the first few years of its existence CCW 
transported passengers aboard a racy looking McKeen gas car. When the line was 
electrified in 1915, McGuire-Cunimings delivered a neat little combine, No. 50, which 
was still regularly rattling over the 21-mile line in 1949 when the car crossed the 
Flood Creek trestle on a trip from Marble Rock. William D. Middleton. 

Near Denver on the 22-mile 
Waverly branch, Waterloo, Ce- 
dar Falls & Northern No. 102 
made a splash of orange in the 
bright green Iowa spring of 
1954. William D. Middleton. 

Crossing the IC just outside of 
Waterloo, la., WCF&N 102 
headed for the paralleling Wa- 
verly branch in a cloud of dust. 
Had this train been bound for 
the main line to Cedar Rapids, 
it would have slowed for a wye 
just ahead. The single-ended 
cars were also wfed at each end 
of the line, keeping the conduc- 
tor busy. William D. 


With its diesel-type air 
born blaring, the 102 
trundled along the It "a- 
verly branch. how pow- 
er and rough track kept 
speeds down. Wil- 
liam D. Middleton. 

The three Cass brothers who built the Waterloo, 
Cedar Falls & Northern Railroad were former steam 
railroad men, and they constructed the company's 
64-mile southern extension from Waterloo to Cedar 
Rapids, opened in 1914, to standards employed by 
steam lines. The brothers were determined, too, that 
passenger service over the splendid new electric line 
would be equivalent in every way to the best prac- 
tices of the steam railroads. To this end three mag- 
nificent parlor-buffet-observation cars were included 
among the steam-car-proportioned steel interurbans 
delivered for the new service by McGuire-Cum- 
mings. Interiors were finished in oak, with writing 

desks, and leather upholstered wicker chairs and 
davenports. Floors were covered with green Wilton 
carpeting, and plate glass mirrors decorated the in- 
terior bulkheads. A uniformed porter served a la 
carte meals from a Tom Thumb kitchenette. The 
spacious observation platforms were equipped with 
brass railings and scalloped awnings, and the com- 
pany's "Cedar Valley Road" emblem was displayed 
on the rear platform railing in the grand manner of 
steam railroad limited trains of the time. Extra- 
fare, limited train service proved none too profitable 
and the cars were subsequently rebuilt into de luxe 

Rebuilt into a solarium-observation coach during the '20's, car 100 (at Cedar Rapids station) teas the 
only member of WCF&N's trio of de luxe cars to survive a 1954 roundhouse fire that wiped out the 
road's shops in Waterloo. The 100 continued to operate in interurban passenger service until 1956. 
The unused semaphore alongside the station dated from the days when trains continued into downtown 
Cedar Rapids over city streets. William D. Middleton. 

A McGuire-Cummings steeple-cab 
locomotive beaded this 1934 
WCF&N freight train which was 
southbound near Waterloo on 
the Elk Run bridge, one of two 
substantial concrete arch crossings 
of the Cedar River that character- 
ized the high-class construction 
of the company's southern exten- 
sion. The Cedar Valley Road was 
among the earliest interurbans to 
pursue a volume carload freight 
business, and its efforts met with 
extraordinary success. In relative- 
ly recent years WCF&N freight 
revenues have been in the vicinity 
of 2 million dollars annually. Of 
particular value in the develop- 
ment of freight traffic was the 
company's industrial belt line 
around Waterloo which provided 
exclusive service to several in- 
dustries. William D. Middleton. 

Since its donation to the Iowa Railway Historical Museum in 1956, No. 100 has operated on 
occasional excursion trips over the Southern Iowa Railway at Centerville. This was a 1957 fall 
foliage outing. William D. Middleton. 




A jour-truck locomotive that once wheeled Oregon Electric tonnage through the 
Willamette Valley had backed its Fort Dodge Line train into the Rockwell City 
branch at Hope to clear a northbound car. William D. Middleton. 

Bright yellow car 12 of the FDDM&S was southbound on the approach to the Chi- 
cago & North Western overcrossing at Boone. William D. Middleton. 

Iowa's largest interurban, the Fort Dodge, Des 
Moines & Southern, originated in the '90's as a 
steam freight line and ultimately reverted in the 
late '50's to a diesel-powered, freight-only short line. 
During its half century as an electric interurban the 
Fort Dodge Line provided the usual amenities of 
high quality interurban travel, including observa- 
tion-parlor cars — available to Fort Dodge-Des 
Moines travelers for an extra fare of 25 cents — 

which were finished in inlaid mahogany and fitted 
with Brussels carpeting, art glass Gothic windows, 
and bronze chandeliers. The FDDM&S was un- 
usual among interurbans in that freight traffic was 
always of predominant importance, and even before 
World War I, when the interurban passenger trade 
enjoyed its most successful years, the company 
derived fully 60 per cent of its revenues from 
freight, i 


The workhorses of Fort Dodge Line passenger 
service throughout its history were 10 wooden 
Niles interurbans of exceptionally graceful pro- 
portions. In the course of its daily round trip 
over the Des Moines-Fort Dodge main line dur- 
ing the last year of passenger operation — J 95 5 
— No. 12 crossed the highest of all interurban 

bridges, the steel "High Bridge" over a ravine in 
the Des Moines River valley. Erected in 1912 
at a cost of $110,000, the 1%-foot-high structure 
replaced an earlier wooden trestle (destroyed by 
a flood) which had incorporated a million 
board feet of lumber in its construction. Wil- 
liam D. Middleton. 


A line-up of equipment was 
photographed just outside Hutch- 
inson, Kans., on the opening 
day of through service to Wichita 
by the Arkansas Valley Interur- 
han Railway in 1915. The com- 
plete absence of ballast nas a con- 
dition that, unfortunately, re- 
mained permanent on much of the 
AVI. Car No. 6, in the fore- 
ground, expired in spectacular 
fashion in 1928 when it way 
wrecked and burned in a high- 
speed head-on collision with a 
freight train. William J. 
Clouser Collection. 


*.\ w • 

l » ■ ■. w » *• 



Center-door steel cars of substantial appearance 
operated on Missouri's largest interurban system, 
the 79-mile Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph 
Railway, which opened a pair of high-class 1200- 
volt lines from Kansas City to Excelsior Springs 
and St. Joseph in 191). Cathedral glass panels in 

the upper window sash provided just the right 
touch of elegance. To accommodate special parties 
the rear of the cars was designed for conversion to 
an observation compartment. Regular seats were 
removed and carpeting and mahogany lounge chairs 
installed. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


An obscure Midwestern inter- 
urban was the Burlington's 5- 
mile electrification of a portion 
of the ^-foot-gauge Deadwood 
Central Railroad between Lead. 
Pluma, and Deadwood in the 
Black Hills of South Dakota. 
Passenger car 12150, a little 
interurban with a big number, 
was one of five cars operated 
over the line. Here it is at 
the three-level crossing with 
the North Western and a mine 
railroad in Lead about 1906. STE- 
PHEN D. Maguire Collection. 

Electric cars of the Union Electric Railway wandered over a devious 77-mile 
route from Nowata, Okla., to Parsons, Kans. The entire trip, which jew at- 
tempted, required about 4 hours. Hard pressed to make ends meet throughout 
much of its existence, the company economized by purchasing lightweight, one- 
man cars from the American Car Company in 1925. One of them waited for the 
passage of a Frisco freight at Cherry vale, Kans., in 1946. Gordon E. Lloyd. 


! ■>'■ 






The McKinley Lines 

Illinois Traction System 

Headlight aglow, an Illinois Terminal interurban waited at the joint IT-Wa- 
bash depot in Champaign during a 1955 snowfall. William D. Middleton. 

I ' »J 




The McKinley Lines 

Illinois Traction System 

.DURING the first decade of the new century, as a 
great interurban network spread across Mid-Ameri- 
ca, the Illinois Traction System assembled by Illinois 
congressman and utilities tycoon William B. McKin- 
ley clearly emerged as the giant of Midwest traction. 

Only seven years after he opened his first electric 
line in 1901 — a 6-mile stretch between Danville and 
Westville, 111. — McKinley had pushed the main 
lines of his traction empire to their full geograph- 
ical extent. From Granite City, across the Mississippi 
from St. Louis, the McKinley lines extended 167 
miles northward to Springfield and Peoria; 125 miles 
eastward from Springfield to Decatur, Champaign, 
and Danville, on the Indiana border; and from De- 
catur to Peoria via Bloomington. In 1910 a great 
new Mississippi River bridge was opened and Illi- 
nois Traction trains rolled across to a new St. Louis 
terminal. That same year a sleeping car service 
was inaugurated — the only one of its kind on any 
interurban — with specially designed cars that out- 
did even Pullman, and a year later a fleet of luxuri- 
ous parlor-observation cars appeared on limited 
trains operating over the main lines from St. Louis 
to Springfield, Peoria, and Danville. Small wonder 
that they were calling Illinois Traction the "greatest 
interurban system in the world." 

Only a few years later McKinley acquired the 
Illinois Valley lines of the Chicago, Ottawa & 
Peoria, which reached neither Chicago nor Peoria 
but had connections at Joliet with the Chicago & 
Joliet and plans for extensions from Streator to 
Peoria and Mackinaw Junction on the main IT 
system. It was considered only a matter of time be- 
fore the missing links would be filled in and 
through service over an uninterrupted Chicago-St. 
Louis electric route would become a reality. As early 
as 1906 ITS had purchased three special Com Belt 
Limited cars that were to enter a through St. Louis- 
Indianapolis service just as soon as the 20-mile gap 
was closed between the McKinley Lines at Ridge 

Farm, 111., and the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & 
Eastern at Paris, 111. 

Illinois Traction or its subsidiary companies oper- 
ated local streetcar lines in 19 Illinois cities, and 
fully half of the electric railway mileage in the state 
was under McKinley control. By 1916 McKinley 
owned some 40 railway, light and power companies 
in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and 
Wisconsin, and an estimated 800 miles of electric 
railway track was under ITS supervision. 

Expansion of the system continued even in later 
years, although the Chicago and Indianapolis con- 
nections were never realized. In 1928 Illinois Trac- 
tion was merged with the prosperous and strategic 
Illinois Terminal Company, a steam-operated ter- 
minal line in the Alton-East St. Louis area. Two 
years later still more electric mileage was added to 
what was now known as the Illinois Terminal Rail- 
road System when the St. Louis & Alton Railway 
was leased. 

The greatest single undertaking of the McKinley 
Lines, and indeed the greatest engineering work 
ever attempted by any interurban, was the mighty 
bridge McKinley flung across the Mississippi to 
gain access to St. Louis for his traction empire. 
Finding the lack of a direct entry to the city a 
hindrance to the development of his company, and 
barred from the only available bridge to downtown 
St. Louis by a monopoly of his steam road competi- 
tors, the undaunted McKinley undertook the 4.5- 
million-dollar project in 1906. The structure, at the 
time the largest and strongest Mississippi crossing 
ever built, took four years to build, and its com- 
pletion was observed on November 10, 1910, with 
appropriate ceremony. Special trains bearing Gover- 
nors Hadley of Missouri and Deneen of Illinois met 
at the center of the flag-bedecked span; the two men 
"clasped hands, each congratulating the other on 
this newest bond between Missouri and Illinois"; 
and Congressman McKinley's niece raised the U. S. 


** r* 


Running in place of the streamliner Mound City, Illinois Terminal interurban car No. 2H3, trailed 
by the parlor-buffet-observation car Cerro Gordo, headed south from Mackinaw junction in 1950 on 
a fast Peoria-St. Louis schedule. William D. Middleton. 

flag to the peak of the bridge as a band played the 
national anthem. That evening, while the Illinois 
Traction System entertained 700 prominent guests 
at a banquet in St. Louis' Planter's Hotel, thousands 
watched a fireworks display on the bridge. 

McKinley Bridge, the only exclusive river cross- 

ing to St. Louis owned by any railroad, greatly 
strengthened the competitive position of Illinois 
Traction's far-flung interurban passenger service, 
and by gaining direct access to St. Louis industry, 
greatly accelerated the growth of an ITS freig 
business that was already assuming major prop 


A typical Peoria-St. Louis limited train of 1925, made up of a handsome arcb-roofed coach and match- 
ing parlor-buffet car with open observation platform, rolled across the jackknife draw span of Illinois 
Traction's substantial Illinois River bridge at Peoria. This structure became insignificant only 
in comparison with the company's Mississippi span at St. Louis. William J. Clouser Collection. 

tions. A new suburban service between St. Louis and 
Granite City, inaugurated with the opening of the 
bridge, proved to be a lucrative by-product. Only 
a few months after the line was opened, ITS was 
able to report an average of 10,000 passengers a day, 
a figure that tripled on Sundays when thirsty St. 
Louis citizens fled their dry-on-Sunday city for the 
saloons of nearby Illinois. 

Far earlier than .most of its contemporaries, Illi- 
nois Traction recognized the value and importance 
of a carload freight traffic interchange with steam 
railroads. Like most interurbans, ITS usually trav- 
ersed the streets of intermediate cities and towns, 
where sharp curves or legal limitations frequently 
precluded the operation of long freight trains, and 
as early as 1906 the system began the construction 
of belt lines around its principal cities, a move that 
ultimately was to prove the means for survival of 

the Midwest's largest interurban. Early attention 
was also given to the improvement of the system's 
power supply, to satisfy the demands of heavy 
freight locomotives. 

William B. McKinley 
built his Illinois Trac- 
tion System into the 
Midwest's greatest in- 
terurban railway. His 
distinguished career 
in business and public 
life was climaxed 
with a term in the 
U. S. Senate. Illinois 
State Historical 


Workhorse combine 283, seen in the gloom of the St. Louis terminal in 7955, bore the untnistakable im- 
print of Illinois Traction electric car architecture, despite the blocked-off side window arches of a '30's re- 
building. Operation from the left-hand side was an unusual IT feature. The rectangular insert of safety 
glass in the motorman's window was a modern-day innovation. William D. Middleton. 

I ; III 

The crew of this Illinois Traction interurban viewed the roadbed from 
behind a truly generous expanse of plate glass. An early arrival in ITS 
ranks (American Car Company, 1904), car 252 predated the distinctive 
car design that soon became a virtual company trademark. WILLIAM D. 
Middleton Collection. 

Splendid in tangerine, a special train, including the 

parlor-observation car Lincoln, headed south across the 

Sangamon River bridge near Springfield, III., in 19}8. 

Paul Stringham. 









j ti iii fl I fi ii a I! jpWUBlAiil'p 




With controller wide open, a St. Louis-Peoria local skimmed downhill into a little valley not far from 
Edwardsville, III., in / 95 5. By this time the bright orange of earlier years had been replaced by 
less flamboyant blue and silver colors. William D. Middleton. 


Trolley Car Luxury 

Finished in Honduras mahogany, heavily carpeted, and richly furnished, Illinois Traction's parlor-buffet- 
observation cars provided all of the appropriate comforts and a suitably dignified atmosphere for ex- 
tra-fare travelers on the company's crack Peoria-St. Louis limited trains. In later years observation plat- 
forms were enclosed, and such up-to-the-minute features as air conditioning and indirect lighting were 
provided, along with a less somber decor, George Krambles Collection (Above Left, Center); 
Herbert Georg Studio, Springfield (Above Right) ; William D. Middleton Collection (Below). 

II li M 1 N A 

ii Iffi ft ffl ffl 8 • 




_ * 

The interurban sleeping cars introduced by Illinois Traction in 1VW featured such advantages as up- 
per-berth windows, extra-long berths, and individual safety deposit boxes. The Edwardsville was built 
by the St. Louis Car Company in 1913. William J. Clouser Collection. 


Extensive through rates and divisions were estab- 
lished with connecting steam railroads. Illinois 
Traction freight service was even extended to Chi- 
cago in 1910 by means of specially equipped cars 
for less-than-carload-lot package freight shipments, 
which were interchanged with the Chicago & East- 
ern Illinois at Glover, 111. A similar service was of- 
fered via Peoria, where l.c.l. freight was transferred 
to the Rock Island. 

Under the skilled direction of Master Mechanic 
J. M. Bosenbury, Illinois Traction early evolved a 
passenger car design of altogether distinctive ap- 
pearance; and the high arched "crown" roof and a 
front end with three graceful arched windows be- 
came a virtual company trademark. Until three new 
streamliners arrived in 1948-1949, IT's newest main- 
line passenger car dated to 1918, and most of its 
rolling stock was considerably older than that. In 
the interim the company's Decatur shops assumed 
the substantial task of rebuilding and modernizing 
the elderly equipment in order to maintain a com- 
petitive position in the passenger trade. Through 
the years many of the venerable interurbans received 
such improvements as reclining seats, air condition- 

lllinois Traction brass and distinguished visitors rode in baronial elegance aboard private car 2 53. 
Originally constructed in 1906 as the Missouri for the projected St. Louis-Indianapolis Corn Belt 
Limited service, No. 213 was rebuilt and sumptuously furnished for its official duties by the St. Charles 
(Mo.) shop of American Car & Foundry in 1910. George Krambles Collection (Upper) ; William J. 
Clouser Collection (Lower). 

Shortly after World War II Illinois Terminal made an ill-advised million-dollar bid to stay in the pas- 
senger business ivith three streamlined blue and aluminum interurban trains. The City of Decatur, the 
Fort Crevecoeur, and the Mound City were delivered by the St. Louis Car Company in 1948-1949. Pro- 
vided with every comfort of comparable steam railroad equipment, the trains were costly proof that 
interurban passenger traffic was irrevocably lost, atid were withdrawn from service by 1956. Hoof- 
nosed streamliner No. 100 headed a two-car St. Louis limited train at the East Peoria station in / 95 5. 
William D. Middleton. 


ing, and other interior refinements. Illinois Termi- 
nal was, incidentally, the first electric line to operate 
air-conditioned equipment, beginning in 1935 when 
a car was equipped for a new high-speed Peoria- 
St. Louis service. 

Illinois Terminal continued to develop its pas- 
senger service long after most interurbans. In the 
early 1930's, while much of the nation's electric 
railway mileage was being abandoned, IT completed 

After 1911 the mainstay of the high-speed Alton 
service was a group of high-wheeled, center-door 

cars, some of which were capable of speeds in ex- 
cess of 85 miles per hour. Two of the breed 
entered St. Louis over the elevated line from McKin- 
le\ Bridge in 1948. Motorman W. "Dutch" Horr- 
man (far right), who began operating cars over 

the line in 1903, was at the controls of an Alton 

Limited in 1941. William J. Clouser (Right); 

Linn H. Westcott (Far Right). 

An early version of the Alton-St. Louis Limited 
waited at the end of historic Eads Bridge in 1916. 
The Alton line, then operated by the East St. Lou- 

is & Suburban, later became part of Illinois Ter- 
minal. William T. Diesing, from William J. 
Clouser Collection. 



I ■ 

1 J 

il jfl 


/« //>e /iwa/ year* o/ &} S/. Louis-Granite City suburban service, Il- 
linois Terminal provided streamlined PCC trolleys, modified for multi- 
ple-unit, double-end operation. A pair of them descended the St. Louis 
approach to McKinley Bridge in 1955. The Granite City cars, Illinois 
Terminal's last passenger operation, continued to run until 1958. 
William D. Middleton. 

a new elevated structure that brought its passenger 
trains from McKinley Bridge close to the heart of 
St. Louis, and a short subway that took them the 
rest of the way to a basement terminal in the com- 
pany's huge new Central Terminal Building. New 
passenger stations were constructed at such im- 
portant points as Peoria, Springfield, and Decatur, 
and passenger train schedules were accelerated by 
routing the cars around traffic-congested streets on 
IT's freight belt lines at a number of cities, i 

Home-Built for Tonnage 

These photographs record the evolution of the 

distinctive motive power constructed in Illinois 

Terminal's Decatur shops over a 12-year period. 

Earliest of the home-built products were 18 of 

these 60-ton Class B box-cab locomotives built be- 
tween 1910 and 1918. Class B No. 1566 entered 

East Peoria, 111., in 1950 with interchange from the 
Peoria & Pekin Union. William D. Middleton. 

After World War I a steadily increasing 
freight traffic made the small two-truck Class 
B locomotives inadequate for mainline ton- 
nage, and 20 of these four-truck articulated 
Class C machines rolled out of the shops be- 
tween 1924 and 1950. Weighing 80 tons, they 
were powered with eight motors salvaged from 
scrapped passenger cars. No. 1597 was pho- 
tographed near Allentown, III., in 1941 with a 
northbound extra. Paul Stringham. 

Largest of the Decatur-built locomotives were five 

streamlined Class D units built in 1940-1942. Weighing 

108 tons and developing 1800 horsepower with eight 

traction motors, they required double trolley poles to 

draw sufficient current. Virtually identical carbodies 

gave all three classes of IT freight power a strong family 

resemblance. The five Class D's, as a matter of fact, utilized 

frames and carbodies from scrapped Class C units. With 

blowers whining, a Class D rolled into Springfield 

from St. Louis in 1950. David A. Strassman. 

Lengthened and rebuilt with "picture windows," air conditioning, and foam 
rubber seats, the big steel interurbans which were constructed during the 
South Shore Line's overhaul by Insull management in the '20's still pro- 
vide the last word in passenger comforts. Two of them operated a 
South Bend-Chicago schedule near Gary in 195 3. Linn H. Westcott. 





1 , 


1 m i 

S i i 


Insull's Interurbans 

The Great Chicago Systems 

AMONG the men who achieved prominence dur- 
ing the interurban era, one of the greatest traction 
tycoons of them all was Chicago's Samuel Instill, 
whose Midwestern power, gas, and traction empire 
was truly one of the wonders of the '20's. The phe- 
nomenal business career of the London-born magnate 
began in 1881 when, at the age of 21, he became 
private secretary to Thomas Edison. Insull stayed 
with Edison long enough to assist in the organiza- 
tion of the General Electric Company, then moved 
west to begin a conquest of Chicago's public 
utilities. By 1907 the city's entire electric power 
business was under the control of Insull's Com- 
monwealth Edison Company, and only three years 
later an Insull "superpower" system, destined to em- 
brace the entire state of Illinois and much of the 
Midwest as well, began branching out from Chicago. 
Within 20 years Insull's Middle West Utilities em- 
pire had assets in excess of 2 billion dollars, pro- 
duced a tenth of the nation's electricity, and served 
over 1,800,000 customers in some 3500 communities 
in 39 states. 

If only a minor part of his incredibly complicated 
holdings, Insull's traction network was nonethe- 
less impressive. Convinced that electric transporta- 
tion would ultimately supplant all other mass trans- 
portation media, Insull acquired control of Chi- 
cago's surface and elevated railways, and provided 
ample cash to place them in top condition. His in- 
terurban interests, usually interlocked with asso- 
ciated power companies, included a network that 
covered much of Indiana, and eventually every line 
of consequence that radiated from Chicago. 

Pre-eminent among the Insull traction holdings 
were the three superb interurbans which extended 
north, west, and southeast from Chicago. Each al- 
ready enjoyed a measure of distinction when Insull 
acquired control in the decade following 1916, but 
Insull provided the management and hard cash to 
transform these railways into some of the most re- 

markable properties of the entire interurban era. 

The oldest of the three, Chicago North Shore & 
Milwaukee, began operation in typically modest 
interurban fashion in 1894 as the Bluff City Electric 
Street Railway at Waukegan, 111. Reorganized a few 
years later as the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Rail- 
way, the line was reorganized twice again before re- 
ceivers finally managed to complete in 1909 a main 
line which extended from Evanston to Milwaukee. 
Hindered by the lack of an entrance to the heart 
of Chicago, the line was only a modest success until 
a 1916 reorganization under Insull control created 
the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, 
and the new management invested 5.5 million dol- 
lars in an extensive development program. By 1919 
North Shore trains were running to the Chicago 
Loop over elevated tracks, and a few years later pas- 
sengers were being transported between Chicago and 
Milwaukee aboard such luxurious limited trains as 
the Eastern Limited, the Badger, and the Interstate, 
which numbered parlor-observation cars and diners 
among their features and offered close Chicago con- 
nections with the 20tb Century Limited and the 
Broadway Limited. Powerful new steel cars sped 
between the two cities over newly rebuilt roadbeds 
in as little as 2 hours 10 minutes, and North Shore 
billboards challenged, "Did you ever travel 80 
miles an hour?" Between 1916 and 1922 the number 
of daily trains increased from 192 to 295, and the 
North Shore enjoyed a 350 per cent increase in gross 
operating revenues. 

Chicago's interurban to the western suburbs was 
several cuts above ordinary interurbans right from 
its opening day in 1902. Conceived as a "super in- 
terurban," the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railroad 
employed the third-rail system ihen highly regarded 
for heavy-duty, high-speed lines and was engineered 
to the extremely high standards required for a con- 
templated 70-mile-per-hour continuous maximum 
speed. A ruling grade of 1 per cent and a maximum 


Near Four Mile Road, north of Racine, Wis., on an 
August morning in 1955 a four-car North Shore Line 
Milwaukee Limited thundered across the Root River 
which meanders on through lush farmlands to Racine 
and Lake Michigan. William D. Middleton. 

I tilities magnate Samuel Instill built his three big Chicago elec- 
tric lines into the wonders of the interurban era. CHICAGO 

Historical Society. 



A splendid double- 
track roadbed between 
Chicago and Milwau- 
kee enabled the North 
Shore to gain interna- 
tional recognition for 
its speed achievements 
and permanent posses- 
sion of the Electric 
Traction interurban 
speed trophy in 1913. 
Freshly ballasted in 
crushed stone and 
straight as a rifle bore, 
this stretch of track 
near Racine was typi- 
cal. A /Milwaukee Lim- 
ited traveled it in 1956 
at a speed considerably 
in excess of a mile a 
minute. William D. 



Southbound on its last trip of the day, an Electroliner paused briefly at North Chicago on its flight be- 
tween Milwaukee and Chicago. William D. Middleton. 

curvature of 3 degrees were maintained, and the line 
employed 80-pound rail, rock ballast, and sturdy 
bridges of concrete and steel construction. Unlike 
other Chicago interurbans, the AE&C enjoyed the 
advantages of a direct entrance to the Loop early in 
its history, inaugurating through service over the 
tracks of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Com- 
pany in 1905. The superior transportation repre- 
sented by the AE&C encouraged rapid development 
of the western suburbs, and within a very few years 
after the line's opening the number of intermediate 
stations, originally planned at 3-mile intervals, had 
increased to 27 in the 25 miles between Chicago and 

Reorganized as the Chicago Aurora & Elgin in 
1922 by Dr. Thomas Conway Jr., later to earn fur- 
ther distinction as the organizer of the Cincinnati & 
Lake Erie system and the rebuilder of the Philadel- 
phia & Western, the line received the benefit of bet- 

ter than a million dollars in improvements, includ- 
ing stone reballasting between Chicago and Whea- 
ton, power system and shop improvements, and 20 
heavy Pullman-built steel passenger cars. 

Employing a 6600-volt, single-phase power system, 
the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend Railway, 
opened in 1908, achieved early prominence as one 
of the most important alternating current interur- 
bans. Constructed to high standards, and equipped 
with unusually large and handsome Niles wooden 
interurbans, the Lake Shore line did a substantial 
business between the communities at the foot of 
Lake Michigan and South Bend. The necessity for 
a transfer to the Illinois Central at Kensington, how- 
ever, had a discouraging effect on the interurban's 
business into Chicago, until an agreement was ne- 
gotiated with the steam road in 1913 whereby 
through trailer cars from seven Gary-Chicago lim- 
iteds daily were attached to IC steam locomotives, 





The North Shore by Night 

In this series of nighttime camera studies, the North Shore is 
depicted as it went about "business as usual" after a January 
195H blizzard. This snowfall, of the prodigious proportions 
common to the shores of the Great Lakes, had raged across 
Chicago's North Shore suburbs, thoroughly disrupting road 
traffic and other activities similarly less reliable than the elec- 
tric cars. The white stuff was still drifting down as a Skokie 
Valley local stopped at the Liberty ville (III.) station. 
William D. Middleton. 

Surrounded by darkened interurbans awaiting the morning rush 
back to the city, a late evening local was about to depart from 
Mundelein for Chicago. William D. Middleton. 

While compressors hammered air into the train line, a trio of 

GE steeple-cab locomotives waited at Pettibone Yard in North 

Chicago with 29 cars for the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern at Rondout 

and the Soo at Mundelein. William D. Middleton. 



Dressed in skirting and red and silver colors, a pair of heavy Pullman cars of the Insull era raced 
into Milwaukee in 1957. William D. Middleton. 

Instills management of the CNS&M produced the 10-million-dollar Skokie Valley Route that cut 
nearly 20 minutes from Chicago-Milwaukee schedules. The Dempster Street interlocking at Skokie 
(Siles Center) protected the stub terminal of Chicago Rapid Transit's Howard Street shuttle trains, 
which operated north to this point from 1925 to 1948. The three-car Milwaukee Express, photo- 
graphed around 1947, was decked out in the green, gray, and red livery which replaced traction 
orange and maroon with the introduction of the Electroliners. John Stern. 

fust after leaving congested Milwaukee streets behind, a North Shore Limited picked up speed across 
the high fill on Milwaukee's south side. William D. Middleton. 


which transported them to Illinois Central's Ran- 
dolph Street suburban station. Passenger revenues 
between Chicago and points on the electric line 
showed an encouraging 25 per cent increase soon 
after the new arrangement went into effect. 

Approaching the mid-'20's the big Chicago lines 
found themselves facing a somewhat disturbing fu- 
ture. The Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend was 
in the worst predicament. Hard hit by declining 
traffic, the once handsome property had fallen into a 

sorry state of disrepair, and was to find itself in 
receivership by 1925. The North Shore Line, bene- 
fited by its extensive improvement program, was 
doing exceedingly well but still suffered an ener- 
vating slow drag through the streets of Chicago's 
northern suburbs which threatened the continued 
prosperity of its important traffic between Chicago 
and Milwaukee. Only the Chicago Aurora & Elgin 
Railroad was without major plant improvement 


Aloving at a rapid clip, an Elec- 
troliner hammered across Chi- 
cago & North Western double 
track at Oak Creek tower, south 
of Milwaukee, early in 1938. 
William D. Middleton. 

Since construction of the huge Great 
Lakes Naval Training Center during 
World War I, countless thousands of 
Midwestern youths have arrived at 
the gates of "hoot camp" aboard the 
electric cars of the North Shore Line. 
Returning to the "Lakes" from a week- 
end liberty, this sleepy whitehat and 
his wife waited for departure of a late 
evening train from the Milwaukee 
depot. Joseph C. O'Hearn. 


At this point Sam Insull went to work. 

Early in 1924 Insull pushed ahead with plans for 
further massive improvements to the North Shore 
Line. During the next several years no fewer than 
65 new steel interurbans were placed in service, and 
10 million dollars was expended for the new Skokie 
Valley high-speed line, which bypassed the con- 
gested lake shore suburbs — cutting nearly 20 min- 
utes from Chicago-Milwaukee schedules — and 
opened a whole new area to suburban development. 
Construction of the line set off what was described 
as a "spectacular real estate boom" and land values 
increased to as much as 10 times their previous val- 
ues. Following the new line's completion in June 
1926, the North Shore enjoyed the most prosperous 
year in its history. 

The tremendous carrying capacity of the new 
Skokie Valley line was shown off in spectacular 
fashion a few weeks after its completion, when a 
great Catholic Eucharistic Congress was held at 
Mundelein, 111. On the final day of the Congress 
on June 24, 1926, the North Shore moved 170,000 

The North Shore entered the streamliner era in 
1941 with a pair of articulated trains that repre- 
sented the finest inter urban equipment ever con- 
structed in the United States. Between them the 
Electroliners have clocked more than 6 million 
train-miles on five daily Chicago-Milwaukee round 
trips offering air-conditioned de luxe coach ac- 
commodations for 120 passengers, plus tavern- 
lounge facilities. A panned photograph captured 
the seemingly effortless pace of an Electroliner as 
it glided southward at a speed approaching its 85- 
mile-per-hour capability. William D. Middleton. 


After 1926 interurbans of Sam Insult's South Shore Line operated straight through 
to the Chicago Loop from Kensington over the rails of the Illinois Central's 
superbly engineered suburban electrification. In /956 a four-car Chicago Ex- 
press, operating over the outer "special" track reserved for nonstop trains, was 
about to overtake an IC local on six-track right of way not far from the Loop. 

William D. Middleton. 

A Pullman-built North Shore coach, trimmed in the Silverliner colors of recent 
years, got a new set of wheels in the company shops at Highwood, III., in 1955, 
William D. Middleton. 



r" :t 


passengers from Chicago's Loop to Mundelein and 
back, and another 60,000 were transported between 
the Chicago & North Western station at Lake Bluff 
and Mundelein. Six-car trains of borrowed Chicago 
Rapid Transit equipment left the Loop every 2 
minutes beginning at daybreak, and 13 eight-car 
trains shuttled steadily between Lake Bluff and 
Mundelein to carry the record crowd. 

Working through his Midland Utilities Com- 
pany, Insull next acquired the Chicago, Lake 
Shore & South Bend at a foreclosure sale in 1925, re- 
organized it as the Chicago South Shore & South 
Bend, and during the next three years gave it a 
6.5-million-dollar transfusion of Insull capital for 
rehabilitation and new equipment. At the peak of 
its overhaul program the South Shore had 900 men 
at work laying rail, reballasting, and building new 

structures and line relocations. The Illinois Central 
had just completed the 1500-volt D.C. electrification 
of its suburban system, so the South Shore scrapped 
its A.C. equipment, rebuilt its electrical system to 
conform with the IC's, and negotiated a new track- 
age rights agreement that permitted South Shore 
electrics to operate through to Randolph Street sta- 
tion, cutting some 12 minutes from previous running 
times behind IC steam power. Pullman and other 
builders turned out 49 new steel cars for the system, 
among them 15 handsome parlor-observation and 
dining cars. When South Shore began operation of 
limited name trains with the new de luxe equipment, 
the trade periodical Electric Railway Journal termed 
it a "smashing blow to competition." The newly 
overhauled South Shore did well indeed, for in only 
one year — between 1926 and 1927 — gross passen- 


Eastbound with afternoon commuters in 1935, a Michigan City train pounded past Burnham Yard near 
Hammond, Ind., where one of the South Shore's three 273-ton "Little Joe'' locomotives made up an 
eastbound freight. William D. Middleton. 

Late on a rainy evening a train of heavy 
Pullman interurbans rolled through the 
streets of East Chicago, Ind. By the 
mid-'Ws South Shore was running its 
trains around the city on a new bypass 
route built to trunk line standards. 
H. A. List. 

In pre-Insull days the South Shore Line operated 
its passenger service with unusually large and 
heavy wooden interurbans constructed by the Niles 
Car & Manufacturing Company. Three of them 
headed an eastbound special, which included a 
Chicago & Alton diner, in a scene at the Michigan 
City (Ind.) shops. Chicago South Shore & South 

Bend Railroad. 


Before and After Insull 

Geared for pulling power, a Niles combine of Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend days, photographed in 

1926 at Lake Park siding, was able to make good time with a six-car special of borrowed Illinois 

Central coaches of the familiar arch-roofed Harriman lines pattern. Van-Zillmer Collection. 

A quarter of a century later a 24-wheeled "Little Joe," developing better than 5000 horsepower, made 

even easier work of a 10-car Illinois Central picnic special made up of the selfsame Harriman coaches. 

The train is seen eastbound at the Pennsylvania overpass east of Gary. Van-Zillmer Collection. 

Carefully arranged for a 1927 publicity photograph, a Chicago Aurora & Elgin train, made up of four handsome 




1 •• -^<* 

Pullman steel interurbans and a buffet-parlor car, presented a fine sight. Charles A. Brown Collection. 


ger revenues increased no less than 100 per cent. 

Fresh from its million dollar refurbishing under 
the Conway management when it was added to the 
Insull holdings in 1926, the Chicago Aurora & El- 
gin had less need for the sort of capital showered on 
the North Shore and South Shore lines, but none- 
theless received another million and a half for sta- 
tion and right-of-way improvements, and 15 heavy 
steel interurban cars. 

The splendidly engineered and equipped Insull 
lines became models for a new kind of heavy-duty, 
high-speed interurban that many hoped would bring 
a new era of traction prosperity. High-speed op- 
eration had become the object of growing interest 
on the part of electric railway managers, and the un- 
paralleled accomplishments of the Chicago lines 

End of track for CA&E's Elgin line teas this tranquil 
spot on the Fox River, where car 415 waited to de- 
part as a Chicago Express. Until 1 9 50 interurban 
connections were available at Elgin for Rockford, 
Freeport, and southern Wisconsin points. 
William D. Middleton. 

During weekday rush hours the well-kept Chicago 
Aurora & Elgin roadway between Wheaton and 
Chicago handled a parade of multiple-unit com- 
muter trains on streetcar headway. On a quiet Sun- 
day morning, hoivever, this car, westbound at Glen 
Oak station, was more than adequate equipment for 
a Wheaton local. Roarin Elgin traffic dwindled 
after expressway construction forced discontinuance 
of "one-seat" service to Chicago's Loop in 19*>4, and 
abandonment followed three years later. 
William D. Middleton. 

A shirt-sleeved conductor waved a highball from the 
vestibule and the motorman reached for his con- 
troller as a CA&E Chicago local prepared to depart 
from Wheaton station in J 9'*''. Heading the train was 
one of the line's 10 post-World War 11 St. Louis-built 
interurbans, constructed with "fish-belly" sides to 
permit extra seating room despite Chicago El plat- 
form restrictions. William D. Middleton. 

brought them widespread recognition. In 1924 Elec- 
tric Traction magazine began the award of an an- 
nual Speed Trophy to America's fastest interurban 
railways. Texas' Galveston-Houston Electric Rail- 
way received top honors for the first two years, but 
thereafter, as the benefits of the Insull improve- 
ments were realized, the three Chicago lines domi- 
nated the competition. After 1929 the Insull lines 
regularly held the first three places in the competi- 
tion, and in 1933, after winning the first position for 
three consecutive years, the North Shore gained 
permanent possession of the trophy. 

A few years later the North Shore earned world 
distinction as the subject of a special article in Great 
Britain's The Railway Gazette. Stated the Gazette 
in 1935, after citing examples of the North Shore's 
frequent start-to-stop timings requiring average 
speeds in the vicinity of 70 miles per hour, "Some of 

As an express from Chicago cleared the single track 

Aurora Hue, a pair of CA&E freight motors headed 

out of the Burlington interchange with tonnage 

for Wheaton. The much-traveled locomotives had 

previously operated under the colors of no less than 

three interurbans, in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa. 

William D. Middleton. 



the point-to-point bookings are probably without 
rival, and the timings of the hourly trains between 
leaving the Milwaukee suburban area and entering 
that of Chicago make the whole service the fastest 
of its kind in the world." 

Such high speed dominance among electric rail- 
ways has continued even into recent years, when 
the North Shore has regularly scheduled nearly 2000 
miles daily of mile-a-minute or better timings. 

Samuel Insull's great public utilities complex 
weathered the stock market crash of 1929, but fi- 
nancial reverses of the next few years forced the util- 
ilities mogul into an increasingly difficult position 

From a tower overlooking the junction of CA&E's 
Aurora and Elgin branches at Wheaton, the line's 
dispatcher ran his busy railroad. William D. 


Drab platforms were transformed by wet, sticky 

snow at the CA&E National Street station in Elgin 

as this cold passenger contemplated the joys of 

electric heat aboard the coming train. DALE BUFK1N. 


and finally, in 1932, the Insull empire collapsed. 
Thousands of small investors found their savings 
wiped out and Insull, harassed by intense public feel- 
ing, fled to Europe to escape prosecution. Seized 
aboard a Greek vessel at Istanbul in 1934, Insull was 
returned to the U. S. for trial on charges of mail 
fraud, violation of federal bankruptcy laws, and 
embezzlement, from all of which he eventually won 

It is interesting to speculate on what might have 
been had the Insull empire survived the depression. 
As early as 1925, when Insull's Midland Utilities ac- 
quired the bankrupt Chicago, Lake Shore & South 
Bend, the electric railway trade press gave serious 
attention to rumors that formation of a single giant 
Insull interurban extending all the way from Mil- 
waukee to Louisville was in the making. The affairs 
of the three big Chicago interurbans were close- 
ly interlocked following acquisition of control by 

Midland Utilities. The three lines engaged in joint 
traffic promotion, and two of them, the North Shore 
and the South Shore, were headed by the same presi- 
dent, Britton I. Budd. The purchase by the South 
Shore in 1930 of two new locomotives, designed 
for either 1500- or 600-volt operation and trolley, 
pantograph, or third-rail current collection to per- 
mit their use on any of the three Chicago lines, 
hinted at an even closer relationship to come. The 
extensive Indiana properties of another Insull hold- 
ing company, Midland United, were actually con- 
solidated in 1930 into the statewide Indiana Railroad 
System, but no effort was ever made to join it with 
the Chicago lines. Some initial improvements were 
made to the Indiana system, but by this time the 
kind of capital needed to rebuild the lines after the 
pattern of the Chicago super interurbans was no 
longer available and the network vanished scarcely 
10 years later. 1 

An Insull interurban that never made the grade 
uas the Chicago & Interurban Traction Company, 
which got as far as Kankakee with a line that was 
projected to reach Lafayette, Ind. Ill equipped 
to compete with the neighboring Illinois Central 
for through business, and paralleled by Illinois' s 
first paved highway in 1921, the line suffered 
from a chronic shortage of passengers and fre- 

quent financial crises. Electrification of Illinois 
Central suburban service in 1926, which absorbed 
most of the company's suburban business, was the 
last straw, and C&IT promptly folded. Soon after 
delivery from St. Louis in 1907, car No. 202 of 
C&IT -predecessor Chicago & Southern Traction 
stepped out on a special excursion. William D. 
Middleton Collection. 

rs iron 


Way Down Sout] 

The South Central States 

Houston Electric Railway's 

•re blue and white, trimmed 

observation compart// 

e Krambles Collec 





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sa 3%^ 


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Way Down South 

The South Central States 

AS in the states of the Confederacy along the At- 
lantic coast, interurban development in the central 
states of the Deep South was rare. In the entire re- 
gion, plus the border state of Kentucky, there were 
to be found barely a half dozen important interur- 
ban systems. Farther west, in Oklahoma and Texas, 
electric line development was more frequent, and 
the two states boasted several of the most distin- 
guished — and financially successful — properties 
of the interurban era. Almost every important popu- 
lation center in the two states had at least one inter- 
urban; and Dallas, the leading traction center of 
the entire South Central region, had no less than 
six radiating routes, operated by three different in- 

terurban systems. Interurban development in the 
two states began relatively late, and continued well 
after the beginning of the decline and disintegra- 
tion of traction systems elsewhere in North Ameri- 
ca. The Northeast Oklahoma Railway, for example, 
did not electrify its original line until 1921, and 
continued the construction of new lines until 1923. 
The ill-considered Texas Interurban Railway, which 
operated 62 miles of track from Dallas to Terrell 
and Denton, was not completed until 1924, al- 
though total abandonment came only eight years 
later. The very last interurban to begin operation 
in North America was the Missouri Pacific's Hous- 
ton North Shore Railway, which opened in 1927. 

The most successful of the two interurbans operating from Nash- 
ville, Tenn., was the Nashville Interurban Railway, later the Nash- 
ville-Franklin Railway. These two photographs showing a freight 
train and one of the company's original passenger cars were taken 
shortly after the line began operation in 1909, and track ballast was 
still conspicuously absent. Both Photos: Mack Craig Collection. 


During the '30's the N-F acquired a few 
secondhand Cincinnati lightweights such 
as this one at the Tennessee Central cross- 
ing in Nashville in 1940, the last year of 
passenger operation. Nashville's other 
interurban, the Nashville-Gallatin Inter- 
urban Railway, opened a 24-mile high- 
speed, 1200-volt route to Gallatin in 1913. 
The company proposed ultimately to ex- 
tend its system clear across the state of 
Kentucky through Bowling Green to 
Louisville, where a direct connection was 
to be made with the great traction net- 
works of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. 
Nothing, of course, ever came of the 
scheme, and the company quietly folded 
after 19 years of operation. Stephen D. 

The first interurban to adopt the Cin- 
cinnati curved-side lightweight cat- 
was the Kentucky Traction & Ter- 
minal Company, which bought 10 of 
them in 1 922 for service on its four inter- 
urban routes radiating from Lexington. 
The phenomenal success of the light- 
weights in achieving economies and 
increasing patronage led to their wide 
adoption on Midwestern interurbans. 
One of the original KT&T light- 
weights, No. ill, was photographed 
at Frankfort en route to Lexington in 
1932. Abandonment came two years 
later. Howard E. Johnston 






Although brightly painted cars such as the Piankasha provided frequent passenger service to points in the 
mining district in the Oklahoma-Missouri-Kansas corner, the Northeast Oklahoma Railroad's principal 
business was the transportation of ore from the lead and zinc mines to the smelters of owner Eagle-Picher 
Alining & Smelting Company. The last passenger cars quit running in 1940, but freight traffic continues 
behind diesel power. George Krambles Collection. 

The 24-mile Pittsburg County Railway began op- 
eration between McAlester and Hartshorne, Okla., 
in 190 3. Although frequent passenger service con- 
tinued almost to the time of abandonment in 1947, 
carload coal traffic from the mines of eastern Okla- 
homa brought in most of the company's revenue. 
Box motor *>2 snitched a strip mine near Alderson 
in 1946. Preston George. 

The Pittsburg County, in operation for four years 
when Oklahoma became a state, originally was 
called the Indian Territory Traction Company. In 
1946 car 55 zipped along the highway between 
Bache and Dow. After 1924, three of these Cin- 
cinnati cars operated all passenger schedules. 
Preston George. 

- ^ 

->- - 

I llJSii3'r 

The Sand Springs Line began the replacement of its original heavy wooden equip- 
ment with secondhand lightweight cars during the '30's. Here, at Lake Station 
in 1946, are former Oklahoma Union Railway lightweight No. 69, en route from 
Tulsa to Sand Springs, and Tulsa-bound No. 62, one of the five lightweights ac- 
quired from the Cincinnati, Lawrenceburg & Aurora in 1934. Built by the Cin- 
cinnati Car Company in 1918, the CL&A cars were among the first lightweight 
cars built. Gordon Lloyd. 

Former Union Electric Railway No. 75 arrived at Tulsa in. 1954 on double track which 
paralleled the Frisco's Tulsa-Oklahoma City main line. William D. Middleton. 


To augment the motive power available for its growing freight traffic, the Sand Springs purchased 
two 11-ton locomotives from the Niagara Junction Railway of New York in 1946. One of the radio- 
equipped steeple-cabs, No. 1006, pulled a cut of tankers from the Sinclair plant at Sand Springs in 1934. 


Charity's Interurban 

In 1908 Oklahoma oilman, industrialist, and phi- 
lanthropist Charles Page began construction of his 
Sand Springs Home for orphans and widows on 160 
acres of onetime camping ground in the former 
Osage Indian Nation a few miles west of Tulsa. Dis- 
pleased with the undependable flagstop transporta- 
tion service afforded by a nearby Katy branch line. 
Page decided to build his own railroad to the Home. 
Completed in 1911, the Sand Springs Railway was 

initially operated with McKeen gasoline cars, but 
was soon electrified. To assure a permanent income 
for the Home, Page established the City of Sand 
Springs as a model industrial center and liberally 
endowed the Home with tracts of industrial land and 
a multitude of business enterprises, chief among 
them the Sand Springs Railway itself. A highly 
successful electric railway, the Sand Springs Line 
continued passenger operation until 1955, when 
lack of profits, not a shortage of passengers, brought 
its abandonment. Diesel freight operation continues. 

The Oklahoma Railway's steel combine Lindbergh was built for the company m 1917 by the St. Louts 
Car Company. Scrollwork painting and the glass in the lower panels of the baggage door augmented 
the "de luxe" appearance lent by white tires. O. F. Lee Collection. 


Oklahoma's largest traction system was that of the 
Oklahoma Railway, which operated interurban 
routes from Oklahoma City to Guthrie, El Reno, 
and Norman, as well as street railway lines within 
the capital city. The company's interurban routes 
survived through World War II, when they were 
subjected to a tremendous traffic growth resulting 

from defense plant activity and installation of a 
huge Naval Training Station at Norman. The com- 
pany, which had purchased a considerable number 
of relatively modern interurbans on the secondhand 
market during the '30's, sought still more, and old 
passenger cars which had been converted for freight 
service were re-equipped for passenger operation. 

Arriving at Oklahoma City from Guthrie in 1946 was a former Rock ford (III.) Public Service Com- 
pany interurban obtained in 1917. Preston GEORGE. 

One of the different car types acquired by the Oklahoma Railway from aban- 
doned Midwestern properties during the '30's lias this former Fort Wayne-Lima 
Railroad lightweight shown at the Norman depot in 19 IX. Preston George. 


The original composite wood and steel equipment of the two predecessor companies operated 
virtually all Texas Electric passenger schedules throughout the system's existence. Much rebuilt 
through the years, the cars were maintained to high standards even in the company's last years. Hand- 
somely groomed No. 368 was photographed at Vickery on a northbound trip in the summer of 1947, 
little more than a year before Texas Electric abandoned its entire system. A head-on collision be- 
tween two passenger cars in 1948 hastened the company's liquidation. George A. Roush. 

Texas Electric was the last interurban, save Pacific Electric, to operate Railway Post Of- 
fice equipment. In 1941 the company's RPO car No. 362, southbound from Denison to 
Dallas, was just north of Vickery, where the interurban line made an abrupt change of 
direction to pass under the T&NO Railroad. George A. Roush. 



Arch Windows Across 
the bluebonnet state 

Texas interurban development was largely cen- 
tered about the populous Dallas-Fort Worth area, 
and a large portion of the state's electric mileage was 
under the control of the Stone & Webster Manage- 
ment Association of Boston. Street railways in both 
Dallas and Fort Worth were Stone & Webster-man- 
aged, along with the high-class Northern Texas 
Traction Company, which connected the two cities 
with a 35-mile line, and the Tarrant County Traction 
Company, which operated 30 miles south from Fort 
Worth to Cleburne. The Texas Traction Company, 
operating north from Dallas to Sherman, and 

the Southern Traction Company, operating south- 
ward to Corsicana and Waco, on the other hand, 
were locally owned and managed, and South- 
ern Traction was sometimes known as the "Home 
Interurban" for its predominance of local stock 
ownership. The two affiliated companies, both pro- 
moted by J. F. Strickland of Dallas, were merged in 
1917 to form the 250-mile Texas Electric Railway, 
the longest interurban in the entire south. Despite 
its failure to develop more than a modest freight 
traffic, Texas Electric was a remarkably successful 
interurban, and its Denison and Waco lines con- 
tinued through World War II, when passenger rev- 
enues reached a peak of nearly 2 million dollars ; 
year, and the company even paid a few dividends. 


3t =M 3? 


W w »*<• 

~./ - k 

These interurban terminal facilities in 
Dallas were provided by the local city 
system. At the terminal in 1948 were red 
and cream TE RPO car No. 350 and coach 
No. 326, one of the jew all-steel cars op- 
erated by the company. George A. Roush. 

Shortly before abandonment in 
194H of the largest interurban of 
the entire South Central region, this 
Texas Electric interurban traveled 
to Waco on a special run with a 
party of railroad enthusiasts. 
W. P. Donalson Jr. 

After Northern Texas Traction was 
abandoned in 1934, Texas Electric 
acquired a few of NTT's distinguished 
arch-roofed wooden cars. Two of 
them met at George siding be- 
tween Dallas and Denison in 1940. 
C. D. Savage. 


America's Fastest Interurban 

Throughout the age of electric traction there 
were few interurbans that equaled the magnificent 
Galveston-Houston Electric Railway, which was 
completed between the two cities in 1911 by the 
Stone & Webster Engineering Company. Built with 
what the railway's house organ termed "utter disre- 
gard for expense," the line observed excep- 
tionally high standards of engineering and construc- 
tion. For 34 of its 50 route miles the railway's track 
was laid on a perfect tangent, and altogether there 
were only six curves on the entire interurban sec- 
tion, none of them exceeding 2 1 . ? degrees. The maxi- 
mum grade on the entire line was only 0.5 per cent, 
with the single exception of the approaches to a 
crossing over the Santa Fe. Private right of way was 
a full 100 feet wide. Eighty-pound rail, founded in 
shell ballast, was employed throughout the length of 
the line. Catenary construction was employed for the 
overhead system, and power was generated in the 
company's own modern steam turbine plant. Galves- 
ton-Houston traffic proved highly profitable from the 
start. During the '20's some of the company's splen- 
did standard interurbans were provided with parlor 
sections, and accelerated schedules were installed. 
Beginning in 1924 the parlor car limiteds Galves- 
ton Flyer and Houston Rocket were scheduled twice 
daily between the two cities on 75-minute timings, 
requiring an average speed of over 40 miles per hour 
between downtown terminals. It was the fastest elec- 
tric railway service in America, and for two consecu- 
tive years the Galveston-Houston line was awarded 
the Electric Traction interurban speed trophy. Dur- 
ing the summer months Houston pleasure seekers 
rode down to the Gulf on equally rapid schedules 
aboard the weekday Pleasure Limited and the Sun- 

day-only 55 Limiteds, which operated directly to the 
beach in Galveston. Late in the evening the north- 
bound Moonbeam was scheduled for the return 
home. Special excursion fares were offered, among 
them such combination tickets as the Pleasure Lim- 
ited round trip which included admission to a bath- 
house and the Tokio dance hall, and a tourist outing 
which included a sight-seeing tour of either Houston 
or Galveston. For the convenience of dance hall 
patrons, the last train north in the evening, the 
Nigbthawk local, was routed by the Tokio at 
12:05 a.m. 1 

This gay drawing appeared in local news- 
papers at the time of the Galveston-Hous- 
ton's opening in 1911. Herb Woods 

A concrete causeway, over 2 miles in length, 
afforded the interurban, five railroads, and a high- 
way access to Galveston Island. The electric line 
contributed a quarter of the 2-million-dollar con- 
struction cost. During the great hurricane of 1915 
portions of both approaches to the causeway were 
wrecked, stranding a passenger train and a work 
train as winds approaching 100 miles per hour 

swept sheets of water across the structure. The pas- 
senger-train conductor and a number of passengers 
who took refuge in the nearby Causeivay Inn lost 
their lives when the building was swept away at 
the height of the storm. Two passenger cars and an 
electric locomotive ivere eventually recovered from 
the bay, but a tower car was swept away and never 
found. Herb Woods Collection. 


V V 

II Ml 





mwm > 



■■ , " - *T'?ltLj« 

Tu'O jour-car special trains loaded a crowd of Galveston-bound pleasure seekers on Texas Avenue in 
Houston about 1927. The two wooden trailer cars in the foreground had come to the rail u ay second- 
hand from Pennsylvania's Laurel Line. Herb Woods Collection. 


To Far and Lonely Places 

The Mountain States 


Against a stern Wasatch Range backdrop, a sleek Bamberger Railroad 
Bullet raced southward to Salt Lake City in 1950 across the vast and open 
spaces that characterized the Utah interurban. William D. Middleton. 




To Far and Lonely Places 

The Mountain States 

VvEST of the Great Plains, in the forbidding 
reaches of the Rockies and lesser ranges, the electric 
cars became only an infrequent sight. The trans- 
portation needs of the thinly populated Mountain 
states were already amply accommodated by the 
great transcontinental, and the gold and silver dig- 
gings of the Colorado Rockies had been thoroughly 
covered by the narrow gauge frenzy of a few decades 
earlier. Only in the fertile lowlands of Mormon 
Utah, where a chain of interurbans extended nearly 
200 miles southward from the Idaho border through 
the Great Salt Lake basin, did traction develop- 
ment approach that of the Midwestern states. 

The operations of the omnipresent 
Anaconda Copper Mining Com- 
pany of Anaconda, Mont., extended 
even to a Street Railway Depart- 
ment, whose interurban trains ran 
to the company's nearby smelter 
and the town of Opportunity. 
Almost in the shadow of the great 
smelter stack, a St. Louis motor 
car struggled into Anaconda with 
four trailers of homeward-bound 
workers in 19W. John Stern. 

Aside from portions of major lines of Utah and Washington which 
extended into the state, Idaho's few miles of electric railway were 
concentrated in the Boise region. Largest of several Idaho in- 
terurbans was the Boise Valley Traction Company that operated 
westward from Boise to Caldwell over two alternate routes. The 
company's combine No. 7, shown at the Ballantine way station in 
1919, was built by American Car Company in 1911. Smokers were 
expected to ride in the baggage compartment, which was fitted 
with folding wooden seats. Allan H. Berner Collection. 


- 1 


The Denver & Interurban Railroad was a notable 
early experiment in high-voltage, single-phase elec- 
trification of Colorado & Southern steam tracks be- 
tween Denver and Boulder, employing the Westing- 
house 11,000-volt A.C. system. At one time Colo- 
rado & Southern plans contemplated a mainline elec- 
trification and hourly interurban service all the way 
to Fort Collins, but the Burlington, which controlled 
C&S after 1908, didn't take to the idea and the 
catenary never extended beyond Boulder. The eight 
generously proportioned motor cars which were 
constructed for the service by the St. Louis Car 
Company employed extra-heavy steel frames and 

wooden bodies because of operation over the same 
tracks with steam trains, and weighed better than 
62 tons. The extra weight of bulky A.C. controls in 
addition to duplicate D.C. controls for operation 
over Denver and Boulder streetcar tracks and such 
lavish features as steel plate floors contributed to the 
great weight of the cars. The exuberance of the Old 
West had not entirely disappeared before the brief 
span of D&I operation, and on one occasion an in- 
terurban passing through Louisville during a bitter 
miners' strike was liberally ventilated by gunfire. 
The passengers took to the floor while the electric 
car hastened out of range. 

In Pullman green trimmed with gold, car A1-J57 paused at D&I Junction 

with an inspection party of company officials in 1908, the year of D&l's opening. 

Motorman Fred Spencer lounged nonchalantly in the doorway. Andrew W. 

Whiteford, from Jack Thode. 

A small boy gazed rapturously at the big interur- 
ban as a Denver & Interurban train made a station 
stop under the A.C. catenary. William D. Mid- 
dleton Collection. 


Between Denver and D&I Junction, a distance of some 16 miles, Colorado & 
Southern deemed it advisable to construct a new and separate line for its electric 
subsidiary, but the remainder of the distance to Boulder was operated over either 
of two C&S steam lines which had been electrified for the interurban service. 
This activity at Louisville about 1910 indicates the close integration of D&I 


schedules with those of the parent C&S. The two interurban cars, en route to 
and from Denver, are meeting the C&S's Lafayette Stub local, powered by 
4-4-0 No. 303. The dual-gauge track was employed for mixed-gauge freights trans- 
porting ore concentrates from the Denver, Boulder & Western interchange at 
Boulder to the smelter in Denver. Boulder Historical Society. 


An interurban with an ambitious past was the 
Denver & Intermountain, which extended west from 
Denver to Leyden and Golden. Originally built by 
David Moffat as the narrow-gauge Denver & North- 
western, the line was once possessed of plans to 
cross the Continental Divide to Grand Lake, a pop- 
ular resort near what is now the Rocky Mountain 
National Park. Instead, Moffat built his Denver & 

Salt Lake line through Corona Pass and Denver & 
Northwestern became an interurban affiliate of 
the Denver Tramways. Later on, a second, more 
direct route to Golden was provided when the 
Tramways took over and electrified a standard-gauge 
steam line. Between Arvada and the Leyden Mine 
the company operated a rare stretch of dual-gauge 
electric track. 

This D&IM narrow-gauge interurban, a con- 
verted city car, was running at a respectable JO 
miles per hour near Arvada, Colo., in l')4H on 
dual-gauge track of the old Denver & Northwest- 
ern, which was parallel to the rails of D&RG\\"s 
Mofjat-built transcontinental. A onetime funeral 

car which transported mourners while the cof- 
fin rode in a four-wheel trailer behind, car .03 
retained its black leather upholstery to the end. 
For reasons now obscure, Denver & Intermoun- 
tain applied decimal numbers to its narrow- 
gauge interurbans. Ross B. Grenard Jr. 

Lava-capped North Table Mountain provided a scenic background as a standard-gauge D&IM interurban 
rolled eastward out of Golden, Colo., in l l )4 l ), a year before abandonment. John Stern. 


Trailing a former Colorado & Southern com- 
bine which served as a caboose, a pair of D&IM 
narrow-gauge steeple-cab locomotives ran 
ALU. near Leyden in 1950. The unusual en- 
gines were leased from Denver Tramways. 
Freight equipment was painted a simple black, 
but passenger cars were the same golden yel- 
low as DT streetcars. Ross B. Grenard Jr. 

Arriving from Colorado Springs, a deck- 
roofed Colorado Springs & Interurban car 
headed through the streets of Manitou 
Springs, past the terminal where passengers 
transferred to the cog railroad that scaled 
nearby Pikes Peak. Rambling resort hotels, 
such as the one seen in the background, ac- 
commodated passengers who came to partake 
of the health-giving benefits of the mineral 
springs. From Railroad Magazine. 



The Highest Interurban 

The gold mining camps of the mountainous Crip- 
ple Creek district, the scene of Colorado's last great 
mining boom, were linked by the rails of an early 
U. S. interurban, the Cripple Creek District Rail- 
way, that began service between Cripple Creek and 
nearby Victor early in 1898. This original "High 
Line" between the two points traversed an extreme- 
ly mountainous area, affording what was perhaps 
the most spectacular interurban ride available in 
North America. The electric cars negotiated severe 
grades, which reached a maximum of 7.5 per cent up 
Poverty Gulch, and climbed to an elevation of near- 

ly 2 miles above sea level at Midway, making the 
line easily the highest electric railway in all of 
North America. A year after its opening the electric 
line was purchased by the new Colorado Springs & 
Cripple Creek District Railway and the latter con- 
structed a second, shorter "Low Line" between Crip- 
ple Creek and Victor in 1901. During the Cripple 
Creek boom times the interurban transported such 
later distinguished personages as Bernard Baruch, 
Jack Dempsey, Tom Mix, and "Texas" Guinan; and 
the famous vaudeville team of Gallagher and Shean 
first tried out their routines for passengers on the 
mountain interurban, on which they worked as 
motorman and conductor. 

About 1900, Cripple Creek District Railway's car No. 1, the Evelyn, a Barney & 
Smith motor car, stopped at Midway en route from Cripple Creek to Victor. 
Barely visible to the south are the peaks of the Sangre de Crista range. 
Eddie Wiwatowski Collection. 

The interurban's route and the irregular topography of the Cripple Creek District are shown in some- 
what exaggerated fashion in this early promoter's view. Trains Collection. 

Controlled by the Carlton interests, the Grand 
River Valley Railroad, tvhich extended 16 miles 
from Grand Junction, Colo., to Fruita, was 
once scheduled to become a part of the Colo- 
rado Midland's projected western extension to 
Salt Lake City. Instead, following World War 1, 

the Midland earned the unfortunate distinction 
of being the largest single abandonment in 
railroad history, and the "fruit Belt Route" con- 
tinued to the end of its existence in relative 
obscurity. Combine No. 5 J is seen in Grand 
Junction. Fred Fellow Collection. 

Northernmost of the chain of Utah interurbans 
was the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Railway, later known 
as the Utah Idaho Central, which meandered north 
from Ogden across the Collinston Divide to the 
Cache Valley and southern Idaho. Originally the 
wealthy David Eccles interests, which built the line, 
contemplated an electric trunk line that would 
eventually extend all the way to Yellowstone 
Park, but traffic was scarce in the lonely UIC coun- 
try and prosperity eluded the interurban. In 1910 a 

UIC predecessor, the Ogden Rapid Transit Com- 
pany, successfully waged a miniature "canyon war" 
with Simon Bamberger's Salt Lake & Ogden in- 
terurban, when both raced to be the first to build 
a line up the scenic Ogden Canyon. While Bam- 
berger crews were busy surveying and grading a 
new line to the mouth of the canyon, east of Ogden, 
ORT managed to get there first by extending an 
Ogden local line, and Bamberger was forced to 
abandon his virtually completed roadbed. 

Winters were severe on the Utah interurbans, and scenes such as this were com- 
mon. Home-built wooden freight locomotive No. 6 battled heavy drifts on 
the Ogden Rapid- Transit line near Nerva before 1912. Fred Fellow Collection. 


Speeding downgrade after topping the Collinston 
Divide at Summit, northbound VIC train No. 1 
beaded through desolate countryside to Preston. 
Ida., in 1947. By this time the company's 
passenger operation had declined to a single 

daily round trip, and abandonment was only a 
month away. The "rising sun" front-end treat- 
ment was typical of the flamboyant color schemes 
adopted by Utah interurbans during their later 
years. Fred Fellow. 


With the great Mormon Temple prominent in the 
background, a three-car Bamberger train headed 
north out of Salt Lake City for Ogden in 1950. 
John Stern. 

Garbed in brilliant orange and cream 
colors, a Bamberger interurban approached 
North Salt Lake station in the wake of a 
February snowstorm in 1951. Originally 
constructed as an open trailer car in 1916 
by the Jewett Car Company, car 355 was 
rebuilt numerous times b\ company shops 
in later years. After being gutted in a half- 
million-dollar Ogden carbouse fire in 1918, 
No. 355 and five identical cars were rebuilt 
in company shops as enclosed motor cars. 
Their last rebuilding came in 1946 in 
preparation for a new high-speed "Flyer" 
service; interiors were completely refur- 
bished and new gearing was installed which 
permitted top speeds of 73 miles per hour. 
William D. Middleton. 

Dissatisfied with the indifferent service offered 
between Salt Lake City and Ogden by the Union 
Pacific and the Denver & Rio Grande, and con- 
vinced that a local railroad devoted to local interests 
was required, Simon Bamberger, later a Utah gov- 
ernor, organized the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway, 
which completed construction of a line between the 
two cities in 1908. Originally steam powered, the 
SL&O was converted to electric power in 1910, and 
still later adopted the Bamberger family name as its 
corporate title. Connecting Utah's two principal 
cities, and traversing the rich Mormon lowlands 
between the Wasatch Range and Great Salt Lake, the 
Bamberger line developed a rich traffic and survived 
well beyond the midcentury. 


Just north of Farmington, Utah, 
Salt Lake & Ogden construc- 
tion crews drained a swamp, 
created an artificial lake, and 
built the elaborate Lagoon 
amusement park that soon be- 
came a major source of the com- 
pany's passenger traffic. Jam- 
packed with passengers in a 
holiday mood, a five-car Fourth 
of July special rumbled through 
Farmington on the way from 
Salt Lake City to the park. 
Fred Fellow. 

In company with their steam railroad con- 
temporaries, interurban proprietors considered the 
monumental passenger terminal, befitting the im- 
portance and substantial character of their lines, a 
necessary adjunct to the passenger business. Among 
the most imposing of such structures was the great 
terminal erected in 192} on Salt Lake City's Temple 
Square by Utah interurban tycoons Simon Bam- 
berger atid W . C. Orem for the joint use of their 
Bamberger Railroad and Salt Lake & Utah 
electric cars. Fred Fellow Collection. 

Marble and tile finishes were lavishly employed 
in the public rooms of the Salt Lake terminal, 
which cost $300,000. Space was provided for a 
restaurant, stores, and other facilities befitting an 
important passenger terminal, as well as office 
spaces for both companies. A Salt Lake & Utah 
train unloaded at the platforms in the rear of the 
terminal. Fred Fellow Collection. 

South from Salt Lake City into the Utah Valley, 
during the final years of the great electric railway 
boom, Boston mining and railroad tycoon Walter C. 
Orem pushed the rails of his high grade Salt Lake & 
Utah Railroad. Among the contractors who built 
the "Orem Road" was Mrs. W. M. Smith, a rather 
remarkable lady who was claimed to be the only 
woman railroad contractor in the world. Reputed to 
be worth a half million dollars, Mrs. Smith had 
built branches for Union Pacific and Southern Pa- 
cific and a portion of the Western Pacific main line 
before taking the Salt Lake & Utah job. Working 
with Mrs. Smith on the interurban was her daughter 
Irene, who was learning the business. Said Mrs. 
Smith, who bossed her own track gangs, "There is 
good money in the contracting business and I don't 
see why a woman shouldn't succeed in it as well as 
a man. Certainly I can look along a rail and see 
if it is laid straight. If it isn't I make the men take 
it up and fix it." 

In common with most western interur- 
bans. Salt Lake & Utah operated an ex- 
tensive freight business, interchanging 
traffic with its interurban and steam rail- 
road connections alike. Steeple-cab loco- 
motive No. 52, shown with a tonnage train 
of coal from the line's Utah Railway con- 
nection at Provo, was a 1922 product of 
the company shops at Payson. Rebuilt 
from the remains of an earlier locomotive 
demolished in a head-on collision with a 
steam locomotive, No. 52 met a similar 
fate 20 years later when it was completely 
wrecked in another "cornfield meet," an 
event that occurred altogether too fre- 
quently in SL&U history. Fred Fellow 






Only two years after completion of the Ore/n Road, these SL&U trains met on multiple track not far 
from Salt Lake City. Fred Fellow Collection. 


At Granger, south of Salt Lake, the SL&U Magna branch headed west from the 
main line. Car No. 610 was bound down the branch while train No. 5, headed 
by combine No. 603, accommodated "Red Arrow Fast Freight" and passengers 

Freshly outshopped, a pair of the handsome Niles-built steel interurbans that operated Salt Lake & 
Utah passenger service throughout U years of electric operation were lined up in a Salt Lake City street 
for a 1935 publicity photograph. Fred Fellow Collection. 


To provide suitable class on its crack Utah County 
Limited and Zion Limited, Salt Lake & Utah ac- 
quired a pair of roomy observation cars from the 
Niles Car Company in 1916. Local farmers liked to 
enrich the family homestead by tossing the chairs 
off the observation platform as the electric cars sped 

by their farms. To solve what was probably a 
unique problem among interurban lines, SL&U 
was finally forced to remove all of the seats from 
the platforms. This gay group rode south from 
Salt Lake City on the Utah County Limited in 1916. 
Fred Fellow Collection. 

Ready for the return trip to Salt Lake City, a Saltair train made up of two McGuire-Cummings com- 

Except for the proceeds of a modest freight traf- 
fic, the Salt Lake, Garfield & Western derived vir- 
tually all of its revenues from the transportation of 
great throngs of pleasure seekers to the company- 

owned Saltair resort on Great Salt Lake. In addi- 
tion to effortless bathing in Great Salt Lake, such 
assorted attractions were offered as a roller coaster 
and one of the world's largest dancing pavilions. 


bines and a brace of company-built open trailers loaded at Saltair pavilion in 1950. Fred H. Matthews Jr. 

Heading due west from Salt Lake City over a straight 
and level line laid on the bed of prehistoric Lake 
Bonneville, the Saltair line opened for business in 
1893 as a steam railroad with the grandiose title of 

the Salt Lake & Los Angeles Railway. Aside fro! 
building a short-lived branch to Garfield, the rail 
never did manage to do anything about its c 
for rails to the west. 1 


In the Far West 

The Pacific States 


Luxurious Oregon Electric rolling stock such as that shown in this verdant Willamette Val- 
ley scene, combined with lower fares and superior schedules, diverted large numbers of 
passengers from rival Southern Pacific's steam trains. For only 35 cents extra passengers 
could ride in the opulent parlor-bufjet-observation car Sacajawea, or the identical Cham- 
poeg, delivered in 1910 by the Niles Car works. Light lunches and spirituous refresh- 
ments were dispensed from the car's miniature buffet. University of Oregon Library. 



In the Far West 

The Pacific States 

In the states of the Pacific Coast grew some of the 
finest traction properties of the interurban era. 
Except in the matter of their motive power, the trac- 
tion systems of the Far West frequently resembled 
steam railroads more than they did their electric 
contemporaries of the Midwest and East. Construc- 
tion standards were usually high, steam railroad op- 
erating rules were frequently observed, and many 
of the Western electrics engaged in heavy freight 
business from their very beginning, often function- 
ing essentially as short line feeders to the steam 
systems. Such attributes served them well, for long 
after the decline of interurban passenger business 
and electric traction many of the Far West interur- 
bans continued to perform a useful service as freight- 
only carriers. 

19 Orders and Motor neers 

A dominant force in electric interurban develop- 
ment in the Puget Sound region was Boston's Stone 
& Webster Engineering Company. The earliest of 
the Stone & Webster interurbans was the splendidly 
engineered third-rail Puget Sound Electric Railway 
opened in 1902 between Seattle and Tacoma. By 
1907, when Stone & Webster's Seattle-Everett Trac- 
tion Company was reaching northward from Seattle 
and construction forces were ready to move south 

from Bellingham, company executive C. D. Wyman 
was able to speak confidently of plans for a Stone 
& Webster traction empire that would soon stretch 
from the International Boundary south to Olympia 
and Chehalis, and perhaps eventually to the Grays 
Harbor country and Portland. By 1913 Stone & 
Webster's Pacific Northwest Traction Company was 
operating two separate divisions, between Seattle 
and Everett and between Mount Vernon and Bell- 
ingham, with construction of the 30-mile missing 
link scheduled for the "near future." To the north 
the British Columbia Electric Railway was ready 
with plans for a new line into Bellingham that 
would have completed an unbroken interurban 
route between Seattle and Vancouver. Temporarily 
postponed during World War I, neither project 
ever materialized, and interurban construction south 
of Tacoma never amounted to more than a few 
short branches to nearby towns. 

With trolley rope bowed in the 

breeze, a Puget Sound Electric 

Railway Seattle-Tacoma local raced 

along near Fife on a stretch of track 

where the transition from overhead 

to third-rail power collection was 

made. General Railway Signal 





Led by a combine laden with an impressive 
variety of front-end accessories, a three-car Puget 
Sound Electric Seattle Limited paused near Kent 
in 1915. Operating in strict accordance 
with steam railroad rules, PSE crews picked up 
"19" orders and clearances on the fly with tradi- 
tional order hoops, and the motorman went by 

the hybrid title of "motorneer." A never fully 
explained PSE phenomenon was the tendency of 
its third rail to travel — one stretch of third rail 
moved over 60 feet in the space of only a few 
years — and PSE maintenance crews were for- 
ever removing or adding pieces of third rail. 
H. A. Hill Collection. 

Street traffic magically melted in the path of PSE's formidable interurbans. This Tacoma Limited was all 
set to rumble off from Seattle in 1924. Washington State Historical Society, from Robert S. Wilson. 

Virtual twins of the handsome cars that plied 
Stone & Webster's Texas interurban properties, 
a half dozen wooden Niles interurbans were 
standard equipment for Pacific Northwest Trac- 
tion's Seattle-Everett Southern Division from 

1910 until abandonment nearly 30 years later. 
No. 54 was fresh from the Ohio builder's plant 
when this view was recorded. Washington 
State Historical Society, from Robert S. 

Trolley Varnish in the Inland Empire 

Grown shabby in their last years 
in the clamp coastal air, these two 
North Coast Lines interurbans 
met at Ronald siding on the 
Seattle-Everett line shortly be- 
fore abandonment in 1939. 
Stuart B. Hertz. 

Operating eastward to Coeur d'Alene, Ida., and south to Colfax, 
Wash., and Moscow, Ida., the interurbans of the Inland Empire System 
traversed the rich agricultural and forest lands of the Columbia 
Plateau. In the early years the electric cars did a brisk picnic business 
out of Spokane to nearby lakes in Washington and Idaho, and dur- 
ing the summers a special "Campers' Limited Train" operated be- 
tween Spokane and Hayden Lake. This holiday crowd jammed a 
Coeur d'Alene train at the big Spokane terminal not too many years 
after the line's 1903 opening. LeRoy O. King Jr. Collection. 


Inland Empire luxury travel was provided by 
two Brill parlor-observation cars. The Shoshone, 
shown here, operated over the Coeur d'Alene line, 
ivhile the Kootenai handled extra-fare trade on 
the Moscow line. The company's crack Shoshone 

Flyer covered the 32 miles to Coeur d'Alene in an 
even hour, making connections with the Coeur 
d'Alene Lake steamers of the Red Collar Steam- 
boat Company for widespread western Idaho 
points. LeRoy O. King Jr. Collection. 

Brill-built combine 8 and trailers 61 and 62 rested at Coeur d'Alene in 1908. The trailers had observa- 
tion platforms, and trolleys for standby lighting. LeRov O. King Jr. Collection. 

Four cars of excursionists prepared to venture down 
the Liberty Lake branch, while a Coeur d'Alene 
local paused on freshly ballasted mainline double 
track at Liberty Lake junction. After an involved 
series of changes in organization and corporate title, 

the Inland Empire System became a Great Northern 
subsidiary in 1 927, and was eventually merged with 
the steam road. GN freights still traverse the one- 
time interurban main lines, but the electric cars 
are long gone. LeRoy O. King Jr. Collection. 

In true Western railroad fashion, white flags and 
an "X-6" train indicator designated an extra train 
of Brill cars bound out of Spokane on Washington 
Water Power Company's I 1 -mile line to Medical 
Lake. Short lived (1906-1921) because of poor 
patronage, this route and a branch to Cheney were 
nevertheless distinguished for their open-platform 

observation cars and an interesting automatic block 
system with train stop. Mechanically linked to 
upper quadrant semaphores, an arm extending 
from the mast in the stop position would break 
a glass tube on the car roof, exhausting the 
brake line and applying the brakes. O. F. Lee 

A lonely survivor of Washington's interurban era 
is the Yakima Valley Transportation Company, 
which still does a modest freight business. Steeple- 
cab locomotive No. 298 headed for the Union Pa- 
cific interchange in 1958 with a single reefer from 

a packing shed near Yakima. In passenger-carrying 
days the company's two short lines out of Yakima 
were serviced by two wooden Niles interurbans 
that, although compact in their dimensions, were 
constructed to the classic pattern. Fred MATTHEWS. 


On rails which once led all the way to Estacada, a Portland Traction utilitarian- 
pattern wooden interurban, constructed by the company shops in 1910, rolled 
through a forested countryside near Gresham about 1952. At Haij. 

In its declining years Portland Traction operated a collection of secondhand rolling stock of wide- 
spread origins. Lightweight car 4007, shown on the Bellrose line in 1952, had previously operated 
on New York's Albany Southern and Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville lines. William C. Downey Jr. 



To Forest and River 

Generally regarded as the first true interurban 
line, the Portland Traction Company's Oregon City 
line very nearly survived long enough to become 
the last as well. In their earlier years the Portland 
electric cars did a lively excursion business. Picnick- 
ers rode the cars to Canemah Park above the falls 
of the Willamette, south of Oregon City, and the 
unhurried among them took advantage of round 

trip tickets offered jointly by the interurban and the 
steamship company that provided a rival service 
on the Willamette River. Long trains of open 
trailers pulled by electric locomotives operated be- 
tween Portland and the big Oaks amusement park, 
and those who wanted to really get away from the 
uproar of the city rode all the way to Estacada, far 
up the Clackamas River on the interurban's Spring- 
water Division, where the company provided a park 
and a hotel in a tranquil setting. 

Portland Traction No. 4001 — photographed in 1957 on the Clackamas River bridge not jar from 

the onetime grounds of the Gladstone Chautauqua, a source of considerable traffic for the electric 

cars in earlier years - — originally plied Indiana Railroad rails. Edward S. Miller. 

Freight for the Bellrose line thundered through Golf Junction in 1949 be- 
hind a brace of Portland Traction steeple-cab motors, one a 1907 GE prod- 
uct, the other a near duplicate built in company shops. John Stern. 

Last cars to arrive on FT were eight former Pacific Electric "Hollywood" 
cars, one of which is seen passing through the company's East Portland 
freight yard in 1935. By this time diesel power was sharing freight duties 
with the line's aging steeple-cabs. William D. Middleton. 




The high construction standards of the Hill-controlled Oregon Electric are evident 
in this photograph taken shortly after 1910. Heavy rail and crushed rock ballast 
were employed for trackwork, and catenary construction was used for the over- 
head trolley wire. On the busiest stretch of OE rail, between Portland and 
Garden Home, where passenger train movements alone reached a peak of 36 daily, 
continuous block signals were installed. General Railway Signal Company. 


Just in from Portland, 123 miles north, an 
Oregon Electric train unloaded in 1913 at the 
Eugene depot, where a hotel omnibus waited for 
prospective guests. For a brief period, from 1913 
to 191X, OE offered a leisurely sleeping car serv- 
ice between the two cities. The owl trains made 
the run in 5 to 6 hours, but passengers remained 
in their berths until # a.m. Special "hop pickers 
trains" were another feature of Oregon Electric 
passenger traffic in earlier years, during the an- 
nual exodus from the city to the hop and berry 
fields of the Willamette Valley. 

Jim Hill's Wedge . . . 

During the first decade of the 20th century, the 
forces of steam railroad titans Jim Hill and Edward 
H. Harriman squared off for the last of the great rail- 
road wars, a fight for supremacy in the Northwest. 
The first round went to Hill, who in just three years 
built his Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway down 
the north bank of the Columbia to rival Harriman's 
Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company (Union 
Pacific) on the opposite bank. The battle turned 
then to the rugged Deschutes River canyon, where 
Hill launched a successful drive to strike south 
through central Oregon with his Oregon Trunk 
Railway into the hitherto exclusive Northern Cali- 
fornia preserves of Harriman's Southern Pacific. 
While Hill and Harriman forces engaged in fre- 
quent fisticuffs in the battle for control of the 
Deschutes canyon, Hill moved into still other Har- 
riman territory with the purchase in 1910 of the 
Oregon Electric Railway, whose interurban line ex- 

tended south from Portland through the rich, SP- 
dominated Willamette Valley to Salem, and whose 
plans contemplated an eventual extension to Rose- 
burg and perhaps even across the Siskiyous to a 
juncture with the Sacramento Northern to create 
an all-electric transcoastal route. Under Hill con- 
trol, Oregon Electric construction standards were 
upgraded to create a first-class railroad capable of 
across-the-board competition with Southern Pacific, 
and within two years OE trains were running all 
the way to Eugene. Harriman countered the threat 
of Hill's electric competition in 1912 with plans 
for an expansive system of SP branch and subsidiary 
line electrification in the Willamette Valley that 
would ultimately embrace 330 route miles of track. 
By 1914 the splendid new "Red Electrics" were op- 
erating from Portland to Whiteson over two al- 
ternate routes, and within five years . interurban 
service was being operated as far south as Corvallis, 
which turned out to be as far as SP's electrification 
ever got. 

. . . And Harriman's Answer 

The superbly constructed permanent way of 
Southern Pacific's Oregon interurban system 
out of Portland was equaled by the high quality 
of the rolling stock provided for the service. 
Weighing as much as 52 tons each, the porthole- 

windowed cars delivered by Pullman in 1914 
were among the earliest all-steel interurbans. 
After the untimely abandonment of "Red Elec- 
tric" passenger service late in the '20's, most of 
the cars moved south to join the roster of the 
SP's Pacific Electric. University of Oregon 


: :r Mm 

^'•i. _. 4^.--.:'^ 

: ?TTibJ*te3**a-£*>.. 

Over the Hills to Sacramento 

Of revered memory among Western electric trac- 
tion enthusiasts is the great Sacramento Northern 
Railway. SN's Meteor and Comet limiteds pene- 
trated nearly 200 miles northward from San Francis- 
co Bay to Sacramento and Chico on North America's 
longest interurban journey. Trains frequently ran 
to as many as six cars in length and offered such 
amenities of long distance travel as dining and par- 
lor car service, and open observation platforms 
from which to view the sometimes spectacular 

Among the many who recorded Sacramento North- 
ern on film in the last years of its passenger opera- 
tion, none produced more inspired camera work 
than the late Art Alter, who composed this memora- 
ble photograph. Sweeping around the Valle Vista 
curve, a big Wason combine led a five-car Concord- 
San Francisco local westward to Redwood Canyon 
and the tunnel through the hills above Oakland. 
Train No. 27's consist represented the handiwork of 
no less than four carbuilders from such widely scat- 
tered locales as Springfield, Mass., and San Francisco. 
Arthur R. Alter. 



'\- : /**~'"V j.u*"--^ 


During the first years of Oakland-Sacramento in- 
terurban operation this Oakland, Antioch & 
Eastern limited crossed Lake Temescal in the 
Berkeley hills. To obviate turning at each end of 
the line the richly appointed parlor-observation cat- 

platform at both ends. In 1929 OA&E, by then 
known as the San Francisco-Sacramento Railroad, 
was merged under Western Pacific ownership with 
the Sacramento Northern Railway, the former 
Northern Electric Railway. Golden State Trans- 

Moraga was equipped with a complete observation portation Historical Society. 

Above Oakland, Sacramento Northern trains made a laborious ascent up Shepherd Canyon to pierce 
the hills via 3458-foot Redwood Peak Tunnel, then rolled downward through the scenery of Red- 
wood Canyon. The walls of Shepherd Canyon echoed to the whine of a dozen traction motors as a six- 
car Sunday-morning version of the Comet scaled the 3 per cent grade. Arthur R. Alter. 



Bursting forth from the east portal of SN's tunnel, a Comet beaded by Holman- 
built combine 1006 gathered speed for the downhill ride to tidewater. ARTHUR R. 

Long after first-class schedules disappeared from the Sacramento Northern time- 
card, freight tonnage continued to roll through the canyons. In 1951 this eight- 
car freight crept up the hill from Oakland, propelled by a big Baldwin-West- 
inghouse steeple-cab, with an identical machine shoving mightily behind the 
caboose. Even though they represented Sacramento Northern's heaviest electric 
motive power, these 68-ton locomotives were rated at only 400 tons on the 
formidable track through the canyon. William D. Middleton. 


To Sea by Interurban 

The waters of Suisun Bay presented a natural ob- 
stacle in the path of Oakland, Antioch & Eastern's 
"short line" to Sacramento. To cross it company 
engineers planned a 10,000-foot bridge, 70 feet above 
high water at the navigable part of the stream, esti- 
mated to cost 1.5 million dollars. Preliminary work 
was actually under way when the project was post- 
poned due to unsettled business conditions result- 
ing from the outbreak of World War I, and the car 

ferry that was to have been only a temporary ex- 
pedient became a permanent feature of the line. 
The delay occasioned by ferrying trains across the 
Bay was not serious during the early days of OA&E 
passenger operation, for the company's chief com- 
petitor for San Francisco-Sacramento traffic — South- 
ern Pacific — likewise was forced to ferry its trains 
across the Bay. But in 1930 Southern Pacific com- 
pleted its great Martinez-Benicia bridge, and Sacra- 
mento Northern was thereafter placed at a severe 

In 1951 one of SN's black and orange striped motors eased out toward the apron 
at Mallard, pushing a cut of cars onto the ferry Ramon. William D. Middleton. 

From 1VI4, a year after the Suisun Bay car ferry crossing was opened, until its 
abandonment in l'J'>4, SN trains were shuttled across the half mile of open water 
and tricky currents by the ferry Ramon, a steel-hulled vessel powered by a re- 
markable 50-ton, (yOO-borsepower distillate-fueled engine which represented 
the largest electric-ignition, internal-combustion engine ever constructed. 
Arthur R. Alter. 

With the train safely stowed, the Ramon headed across the Sacramento River. 

In the days of passenger service, coffee and doughnuts were served during 

the voyage in a small lunchroom on the vessel. William D. Middleton. 


The flatland running that carried Sacramento Northern trains from the Suisun Bay ferry to Sacra- 
mento was broken by the 2-mile Lisbon trestle which crossed the Yolo Basin. Such was the quality 



of this 1500-volt, catenary-equipped speedway that the Comet was able to cover 47 miles from the 
ferry to Sacramento Union Station at an average speed of 50 miles per hour. Fred Fellow. 


One leg of the SN turning wye in Woodland was under the station arches. Train J7 was beading for 
a connection with the westbound Comet. B. H. Ward. 



Sacramento Northern passengers to Woodland enjoyed the facilities of a mission-style structure that 
was without question one of the handsomest of all interurban stations. The 18-mile Sacramento-W ood- 
land branch was as far as predecessor Northern Electric ever got with plans for its own route to San 
Francisco, conceived at a titne when Oakland, Antioch & Eastern, later to become part of the same Sac- 
ramento Northern, was a fierce rival. Western Pacific Railroad. 

This solid-tired, chain-driven "auto bus" trans- 
ported passengers between the third-rail Northern 
Electric' s East Grid ley station and nearby Grid ley. 
At the time of its completion in 1913 NE had the 
longest third-rail interurban line in the United 
States. The earliest portions of the line were con- 
structed with overhead trolley wire, but so success- 
ful was the later adoption of the third-rail system 
that the trolley wire was replaced, resulting, in one 
case, in the resignation en masse of the section gang 
along the affected stretch of track. Western 
Pacific Railroad. 

Early in 1939 Sacramento Northern trains, which 
had previously terminated on the Key Route 
ferry pier out in the Bay, began operating across 
the new Bay Bridge into East Bay Terminal in 
downtown San Francisco. The expected traf- 
fic boom failed to materialize and within two 
and a half years SN ended its interurban pas- 
senger business. Few were on hand in August 
1940 when train No. 10 departed from East 
Bay Terminal on the last through trip to Sacra- 
mento. Arthur R. Alter, Al Haij Collection. 


Between runs at the Northbrae terminal of the "F" line, this Key unit waited on 
track which was until 1941 a part of Southern Pacific's rival East Bay electri- 
fication. After SP abandoned its operation. Key System trains began service 
over several stretches of former SP track. Donald Sims. 

During earlier years the Key Route offered high- 
class electric traction service to San Francisco's East 
Bay cities with commodious wooden cars of typical 
interurban pattern, one of which won a first prize 
at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, and 
thereafter displayed a bronze plaque to that effect. 
Chefs on the big orange Key ferries that plied be- 
tween the company's Oakland Pier terminal and 
San Francisco served up such specialties as "Key 
Route Corned Beef Hash." and stringed orchestras 
provided Sunday entertainment. Altogether it was 

a most satisfactory method of commutation. In 

preparation for through service to San Francisco 

over the new Bay Bridge which replaced the ferries 

in 19V), the Key System designed an unusual type 

of articulated unit. In this 1951 photograph an 

inbound Bethlehem-built unit from the Berkeley 

"F" line headed for the Bay Bridge, dipping under 

the Southern Pacific main line and a highway 

approach to the bridge in a three-level montage 

of electric, steam, and internal combustion transport. 

William D. Middleton. 


A Key System predecessor, California Railway, bought masterfully painted car 11 from Carter Brothers 
of Newark, Calif., in 1896. Its proportions and massive clerestory indicate a greater familiarity with 
steam car construction than with electric car building on the part of the local builder. Industrial 
Photo Service. 


In 1939 NWP'i car from Manor waited at San 
Anselmo station for the connecting train from 
San Rafael. The owl-faced cars ran south to 

the ferry terminal at Sausalito on this former 
narrow-gauge trackage. Arthur R. Alter, 
Al Haij Collection. 

North from the Golden Gate 

From 1903 until 1941, commuters from the Marin 
peninsula north of San Francisco rode down to the 
ferries at Sausalito on the first third-rail electric 
line in California. Originally narrow gauge and op- 
erated with steam motive power, the North Pacific 
Railroad was renamed North Shore Railroad when 
it was electrified in 1903. The Northwestern Pacific 
Railroad took over operations in 1907. Some of the 
first cars built for the railroad in 1902 — open plat- 
form wooden coaches — were outfitted with elec- 
trical equipment and operated right to the end of 

service as rush hour extras. Soon after Southern Pa- 
cific took control of the NWP in 1929, 19 steel and 
aluminum interurbans were put into service. Al- 
most identical in dimensions and appearance to cars 
built before World War I for SP's East Bay electri- 
fication, the 55-ton cars incorporated many other 
improvements in addition to the use of aluminum 
in the bodies. Completion of the Golden Gate 
Bridge and through bus service to San Francisco 
doomed interurban service, but the big orange cars 
went south to the Pacific Electric where many of 
them operated in Long Beach service until early 
1961. 1 


Northbound at Alto, five big orange cars of the NWP's extra "school train" car- 
ried Tamalpais High School students home to Ross Valley suburban towns. These 
72-foot cars, built in 1929 and 1930 by St. Louis Car Company, had no doors on 
their semi-enclosed platforms. Sliding screen gates closed the double-width 
vestibule steps. Stephen D. Maguire. 

y . i 

The longevity of the electric car was ably demonstrated by the vehicles which 
inaugurated service on the United Railroads of San Francisco's San Mateo 
interurban line in 1904 and were still around for last-day festivities in 1949. One 
of them raced southward down the peninsula at Lomita Park in 1947 , by which 
time the line had long since become part of the San Francisco Municipal Railways. 
Arthur R. Alter, Al Haij Collection. 

These steel passenger cars of the San Francisco & 
Napa Valley Railroad borrowed gas-electric body 
styling, and were noteworthy as the last interur- 
bans constructed (in 1953) before depression and the 
decline of the electric railways almost entirely 
wiped out the carbuilding industry. A serious 

equipment shortage resulting from a carbarn fire, 
rather than any sudden increase in traffic, neces- 
sitated the purchase of these cars. Only five 
years later the company's Napa Valley passenger 
service between Calistoga and Vallejo was ended. 
George Krambles Collection. 

The Central California Traction Company, which 
began operation between Stockton and Lodi in 
1907, was an early user of the 1200-volt D.C. power 
system and was the first electric line to employ 
1200-volt third-rail power distribution. These two 
wooden cars were part of a six-car order constructed 
by the Holman Car Company of San Francisco in 

1910 to operate passenger schedules over the com- 
pany's newly completed extension to Sacramento. 
Ready to roll northward on the 53-mile trip to the 
stale capital, they were near the docks in Stockton, 
where a connection was made with overnight San 
Joaquin River steamers from San Francisco. 
George Krambles Collection. 



Red Cars in the Southland 

■ i 

Pacific Electric Railway 

Six cars of pleasure-bent Southern Californians 
raced southward over the four-track main 
line of Pacific Electric' s Southern District, 
bound for the docks at Wilmington and 
the connecting steamer to Avalon in the 
carefree days before World War II. The 
1200-class steel interurbans were PE's fastest 
and finest cars. Donald Duke Collection^ 


Red Cars in the Southland 

Pacific Electric Railway 

CjREAT RED TRAINS of heavy steel interurbans, 
their air whistles shrieking hoarsely for road cross- 
ings, hurtled at mile-a-minute speeds down the inner 
rails of the Pacific Electric's four-track steel boule- 
vards, overtaking mundane locals that skipped from 
stop to stop on the outer tracks. Multiple-unit trains 
of suburban electric cars worried their way through 
the congested boulevards of Hollywood and then, 
like big red snakes, darted into the subway that sped 
their way to downtown Los Angeles. Polished par- 
lor-observation cars with guide-lecturers transported 
breathless tourists over the length and breadth of a 
trolley empire of over a thousand miles that ranged 
from the snow-capped peaks of the San Gabriel 
Mountains to citrus groves, vineyards, and endless 
Pacific beaches. Sumptuously furnished private cars 
glided along the rails bearing high officials on their 
errands of importance. In a time before Southern 
California became the world's most automobile- 
oriented society almost everyone rode Pacific Elec- 
tric's "big red cars" to the beaches, mountains, race 
tracks, and other pleasure spots of the Southland, 
as well as to and from their daily work. 

Pacific Electric freight trains rumbled in every 
direction across the red car network behind electric, 
steam, and later, diesel motive power, and a compre- 
hensive box motor service delivered package freight, 
express, and mail to every extremity of the system. 
Full-fledged Railway Post Office cars raced imperi- 
ously along the more important routes. 

"The World's Greatest Interurban Railway" was 
what they labeled this Los Angeles-centered traction 
colossus assembled under Southern Pacific control in 
the Great Merger of 1911. And even in a region 
prone to generous superlatives and overstatement, 
the title was one that could hardly be disputed, for 
the Pacific Electric Railway simply encompassed 
more miles of track, operated more cars, and hauled 
more passengers and freight than any other inter- 
urban. It has been estimated that nearly 10 per cent 

of the U. S. interurban investment was represented 
by this one system. 

In the geographic extent of its interurban services 
Los Angeles was eclipsed by Indianapolis, but in 
sheer numbers of passengers PE easily made Los 
Angeles America's leading interurban center. In 
1914, for example, a total of 1626 trains, made up 
of 3262 cars, entered or left Los Angeles daily over 
PE's three operating districts. 

Pacific Electric was largely the creation of Henry 
E. Huntington, wealthy heir and nephew of Collis P. 
Huntington, one of the Southern Pacific's "Big 
Four." Arriving on the Southern California scene 
in 1898 with a broad background of experience 
on Southern Pacific and other family railroad prop- 
erties, Huntington purchased a pioneer Los An- 
geles-Pasadena interurban and within 10 years par- 
layed it into a traction giant that reached out from 
Los Angeles to San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport 
Beach, Santa Ana, Glendora, and Glendale. 

Huntington's electric railway activities were close- 
ly allied with his extensive real estate interests, and 
the advance of the red cars into new territory was 
carefully co-ordinated with the operations of his 
Pacific Electric Land Company. Southern California 
was then enjoying a period of unparalleled growth 
and prosperity, and Huntington profited handsome- 
ly from his dual interests. 

Retiring from active management of his electric 
railway interests in 1910, Huntington sold out to 
Southern Pacific which a year later merged PE with 
other Southern California traction properties into 
the greatest electric railway system in history. New 
construction continued until 1914 when the last 
major Pacific Electric line, a high-speed route to 
San Bernardino, was opened. 

Had the favorable climate for interurban develop- 
ment lasted a few years longer than it did, Pacific 
Electric might have grown to even greater dimen- 
sions. As early as 1906 the "Huntington syndicate" 


The first interurban route of what was to become the world's greatest 

traction system was created when Gen. Moses H. Sherman and Eli P. 

Clark connected two local lines with this bridge across the Arroyo Seco 

and inaugurated electric car service between Los Angeles and Pasadena 

in 1S95. This is the first car. Historical Collections, Security First 

National Bank, Los Angeles. 

After retirement from business affairs Henry E. Hunting- 
ton, who made a fortune from his Southern California 
real estate and electric railway activities, devoted his 
last years and his fortune to the distinguished library 
and art gallery at San Marino which bears his name. 
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. 


Both the Sixth and Main Street terminal building 
and the San Pedro interurban line were new when 
this photograph was taken about 1906. No. 279, 
scraping the pavement as it heeled into the ter- 
minal, was one of 130 semi-open cars delivered by 
the St. Louis Car Company between 1902 and 1906. 
The sidewalk semaphores and track switches were 
operated from the raised bay-window office to 
expedite heavy two-way movements in this then 
stub terminal, and to protect narrow-gauge city 
cars which also used Main Street's three-rail 
trackage. Al Haij Collection. 

All dressed up for a day's outing, a crowd of 
excursionists unloaded from a Pasadena & Pa- 
cific train at Santa Monica around the turn of 
the century. The P&P was constructed with such 
rapidity by promoters Gen. Moses H. Sherman 
and Eli P. Clark that some called it another 
"Sherman's March to the Sea." Later known 
as the Los Angeles Pacific, the company came 
under Southern Pacific control in 1906 and be- 
came part of Pacific Electric in the 1911 merger. 
Historical Collections, Security First 
National Bank, Los Angeles. 


was believed to be backing a group which proposed 
to build a Los Angeles-San Diego electric line along 
the coast, and Huntington's name was associated 
with grandiose plans for a high-speed electric line 
through the San Joaquin Valley which would extend 
all the way to San Francisco. Still other proposals 
envisioned lines to Santa Barbara via San Fernando, 
and from Santa Monica to Ventura. 

101 Miles for ioo Cents 

Then as now, Southern California was a favored 
vacation spot, and Pacific Electric developed the 
tourist excursion business into a fine art. The most 
popular of PE's inexpensive electric tours of the 
Southland was the "Balloon Route Trolley Trip" 
originated by Los Angeles Pacific and continued 
by PE after the 1911 merger. Tourists flocked 
aboard the "palatial observation cars" of the Bal- 
loon Route specials by the thousands. On one 
record day 18 carloads of excursionists were trans- 
ported on the tour, and in 1909 an average of 
10,000 monthly rode the trip during the tourist 
season. First stop on the "101 miles for 100 cents" 
tour was the Hollywood Boulevard home and gallery 
of renowned French floral artist Paul de Longpre, 
where this tour party posed self-consciously early 
in the century. Historical Collections, Security 
First National Bank, Los Angeles. 

Midway through the Balloon Route all-day 
outing, the excursion cars stopped at the 
Playa del Rey Pavilion, where a fish din- 
ner was served. Boat rides on the lagoon 
and skating on a rink were also possible 
during the stopover. Freshly rebuilt for 
regular service on the Balloon Route trip, 
Los Angeles Pacific cars 900 and 901 were 
photographed at Playa del Rey with a 
group about 1910. Al Haij Collection. 


De luxe excursion car 023 transported Southland tourists on the "Old Mission Trolley Trip" to San Gabriel 
Mission, Pasadena, Bush Gardens, and the Cawston Ostrich Farm, all for a dollar. Al Haij Collection. 

The Greatest Mountain Trolley Trip 

Among the greatest of Southern California's tourist 

attractions of the early 20th century was Pacific 

Electric' s amazing trolley ride up the slopes of the 

Sierra Madre to Mount Lowe, named for Prof. 

Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, who huilt the railway in 

1893. In this rare photograph Professor Lowe (with 

field glasses) and two ladies are studiously ignoring 

construction progress in the vicinity of the Cape of 

Good Hope on the Alpine Division. 

Charles S. Lawrence. 



Throughout most of its existence as a passenger 
interurban PE was subdivided into three major dis- 
tricts, each virtually a complete interurban system 
in itself. Largest of them was the Northern District, 
operating north and east from Los Angeles, which 
included no less than 400 miles of track and 33 sep- 
arate routes. Main artery of the PE north was a 
great four-track right of way along Huntington 
Drive that carried trains to Pasadena and other San 
Gabriel Valley points, and within the district's jur- 
isdiction were such diverse operations as the Great 
Cable Incline and narrow-gauge Alpine Division 
that elevated excursionists to the scenic heights of 
Mount Lowe, and the 48-mile, 1200- volt San Bernar- 
dino route that was PE's longest and fastest line. 

At the top of the standard- gauge Mount Lowe inter- 
urban line, the Great Cable Incline (designed by 
Andrew S. Hallidie, who engineered San Francisco's 
early cable railways) carried passengers up to the 
Alpine Division's narrow-gauge trolleys. At this 
level were a hotel and dance pavilion; at the top 
of the incline stood Echo Mountain House, an 
observatory, and a 3-million-candlepower search- 
light said to be visible from 150 miles at sea. 
Historical Collections, Security First 
National Bank, Los Angeles. 

Above Echo Mountain, the Alpine Division wound 
through 127 curves and crossed 18 trestles to reach 
Mount Lowe Springs, just 1100 feet below the sum- 
mit. This is Circular Bridge, with a fearless group 
posing in skeletal car 9. In the background is the 
trolley line down to the summit of the incline. 
Eldon M. Neff. 

The Western District, made up largely of the lines 
of the premerger Los Angeles Pacific Company, op- 
erated 260 miles of track and 12 lines which served 
a vast area to the west of Los Angeles, and included 
among its destinations Hollywood, Beverly Hills, 
Glendale, Burbank, the San Fernando Valley, and 
the beaches at Santa Monica, Venice, and Redondo. 

The Southern District, with 400 miles of track and 
17 lines under its supervision, reached south from 
Los Angeles to the busy harbors of Long Beach and 
San Pedro, southeast along Pacific beaches to the 
Newport and Balboa resorts and through the orange 
groves to Santa Ana, and southwest to the El Segun- 
do oil fields and Redondo Beach. 

The Alpine Division was carved out of solid granite for its entire 4-mile length, 
and its grade sometimes exceeded 7 per cent. A dusting of snow was not entirely 
unusual at this 5000-foot altitude, making a unique ride even more spectacular 
for Southern California tourists. PE purchased the line in 1902, and double- 
truck car 121 replaced the original Mount Lowe cars in 1906. 
Charles S. Lawrence. 

-V .V- v 

- < - 


In vivid contrast to the snow scene on page 310 is this view of PE interurban 
No. 1044 tarrying along the beach south of Long Beach on the way to the sea- 
side resorts of Newport and Balboa. Such diverse scenes were only a few hours 
apart on the "big red cars." Donald Duke Collection. 


An almost universal feature of the hundreds of wooden interurban cars operated 
by Pacific Electric was a generous expanse of front-end glass, which extended 
clear around the corners in an early version of the "wraparound" windshield. 
Exceptional among these spacious wooden chariots were the cars of PE's 1000 
class, which arrived from the Newark (O.) works of the Jewett Car Company 
on their own wheels in 1913. A year later they were featured participants in the 
gala celebration and parade attended by 20.000 which marked the opening of 
PE's celebrated San Bernardino line. William D. Middleton Collection. 

Slated with other PE wooden cars for scrapping on the eve of World War II, the 1000's were re- 
prieved to meet the severe test of record PE passenger loads. These five jam-packed 1000's hurtled 
down multiple track to Long Beach in 1942. The Long Beach line, the last PE interurban line to op- 
erate, was abandoned April 1, 1961.. H. L. Kelso. 

In 1929, when PE converted six cars purchased from the SP Oregon lines into 
reserved-seat parlor cars, extra-fare passengers on boat trains to Los Angeles Harbor 
enjoyed the questionable privilege of viewing each other's knees, rather than the 
scenery. The service didn't last long, thanks to the depression. Ira L. Swett — 
Magna Collection. 


In 1906 Henry Huntington opened a new PE inter urban route to Pasadena which 

was designed to serve his Hotel Huntington — an elegant resort hostelry atop Oak 

Knoll — and adjacent Huntington real estate. Late one October afternoon in 1950, 

only a day before the line's abandonment, lone interurban No. 1129 lumbered up 

the slopes of Oak Knoll not far from the hotel. A year later the 50 cars of the 

1100 class were loaded aboard ship at New Orleans for a trip to new duties in 

Buenos Aires. "William D. Middleton. 

Race Track Special 

On such occasions as the annual Tournament of Roses at Pasadena or races at 
Santa Anita, the four-track main line of PE's Northern District absorbed a truly 
phenomenal traffic of rail-borne humanity. On an average day 100,000 rode the 
red cars to see the ponies run; atid multi-car trains, such as this trackbound special 
barreling through Sierra Vista in January of 1951, rolled over the line in 
profitable profusion. WILLIAM D. MlDDLETON. 




During the final years of its passenger operation 
PE acquired from abandoned interurban properties 
in the San Francisco Bay Area a fleet of owl-faced 
electric cars of prodigious dimensions. Over 12 feet 
in length, and weighing up to 61 tons, the big cars 
provided seats for 80 passengers after remodeling 

and refurbishing by the company's Torrance shops 
in 1947. Led by combine No. 498, a four-car special 
train of former Southern Pacific Oakland-Berkeley- 
Alameda suburban cars rolled northward to Los 
Angeles off the San Pedro line at Dominguez Junc- 
tion. Donald Duke. 

The great length of these massive 
cars is evidenced in this broadside 
view of No. 312 — an aluminum- 
bodied car that once rolled down to 
the Golden Gate on Marin County 
rails of the Northwestern Pacific — 
entering the Los Angeles elevated 
terminal. William D. Middleton. 

For services more suburban than interurban in char- 
acter. Pacific Electric had 160 cars of the "Hollywood" 
type, so called for their long association with the lines 
to the film capital. In 1950 No. 152 burst from the 
gloom of the mile-long subway into bright Southern 
California sunshine on the long journey to the San 
Fernando Valley. These low-floor, center-door cars, 
built between 1922 and 1928, were unusually successful. 
William D. Middleton. 



Deadheading into Subway Terminal for rush-hour service on the Glendale-Bur- 
hank line, a two-car train of Hollywoods snaked its way out of Toluca Yard in 
1954. Some of these cars now operate in Argentina (see page 367). 
William D. Middleton. 


•Mor/ty W^e World War II Pull- 
man-Standard delivered 30 PCC- 
type streamliners, modified for dou- 
ble-end, multiple-unit operation, for 
service on PE's Glendale-Burbank 
route, which was thereupon restored 
to all-rail operation after a highly 
unsatisfactory experiment with joint 
bus-rail service. In 1950, 5026 
crossed the high Fletcher Drive 
trestle on the climb over Elysian 
Hills on the way from Glendale to 
Los Angeles. William D. 


An outbound Edendale-Atwater 
local dropped downgrade from the 
hills into the Los Angeles River 
valley at Montesano in 1954. In 
1959 the 30 PCCs joined two 
previous PE car types on Argen- 
tina's Ferrocarril Nacional Ge- 
neral Urquiza at Buenos Aires. 
William D. Middleton. 


j 1 


-,- -^r-. 

PE trains to San Pedro mingled intimately with harbor traffic. Momentarily seen 
from the bridge of a tanker tied up in the San Pedro Harbor's West Basin, an 
interurban train from Los Angeles was about to cross the huge SP bascule bridge 
that separated the basin from the remainder of the harbor. H. L. Kelso. 


The intense activity characteristic of Pacific Elec- 
tric 's four-track steel boulevard leading south from 
Los Angeles is evident in this scene near Watts. At 
left, a freight train had just entered the line from 
Graham Freight Yard. On the right, a northbound 
drag of oil tankers struggling upgrade was being 
passed by a fast-moving passenger train inbound 
from San Pedro. William K. Barham. 

In downtown Los Angeles, Pacific Electric op- 
erated two major passenger terminals, and it had 
both an elevated and a subway line. In 1905 Henry 
E. Huntington opened the 2-million-dollar nine- 
story terminal building at Sixth and Main streets 
which was Los Angeles' first "skyscraper" and, at the 
time, its largest building. Hundreds of daily train 
movements caused intolerable congestion in sur- 
rounding streets, and in 1916 an elevated approach 
was constructed, which thereafter accommodated 
a majority of train movements. In 1925 PE opened a 
4-million-dollar subway and terminal that took at 
least some Western District trains off the downtown 

Merchandise and small freight shipments of every description were loaded aboard 
box motors at Pacific Electric's Eighth Street Yard. Car 1459, in the foreground, 
came from SP's Portland (Ore.) interurban lines. Pacific Electric Railway. 












In earlier years, PE-predecessor Los Angeles Pa- 
cific had formulated plans for a far more ambitious 
subway than the mile-long tube finally opened in 
1925. In 1906, only months after the Southern 
Pacific's E. H. Harriman had purchased control of 
LAP, plans were announced for a four-track subway 
and private-right-of-way route from Vineyard to 
downtown Los Angeles, along with new connecting 
cutoff routes, which would have created the greatest 
rapid transit system west of Chicago. But Har- 
riman's plans were "temporarily postponed" dur- 
ing the panic of 1907, and LAP's great subway was 
never built. 1 

Mail and express activity was concentrated around 
PE's Sixth and Main Street terminal and the Los 
Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. It was 
handled by box motors such as 1415, a standard 
type constructed in large numbers by PE. The 
extra train approached Slauson Junction inbound 
from the Whittier line in 1950. William D. 

The scattered industry of the Southland was well served by Pacific Electric, and the greatest of all 
interurbans became California's third-ranking freight railroad. Electric freight activity centered around 
compact Butte Street Yard, where traffic was interchanged with the major transcontinental systems. 
Steeple-cab locomotive No. 1610 worked the south end of the yard. Pacific Electric Railway. 

; u 


Moving behind one of the standard Baldwin-W estinghouse steeple-cab designs that served PE in 
large numbers, a solid block of refrigerator cars hurried along the Santa Monica Air Line near Palms. 
Donald Duke. 



The extraordinary freight traffic of World War 11 was responsible for such dramatic activ- 
ity as this combination of Mogul and steeple-cab working an east bound extra freight 
through the vineyards near Etiwanda on the San Bernardino line. Overburdened with 




wartime traffic on its main line east of Los Angeles, Southern Pacific diverted much ton- 
nage to the line of its parallel subsidiary. Confronted with a resulting motive power 
shortage. Pacific Electric borrowed SP steam to help out. F. J. Peterson. 


Sunset on the Fraser River . . . and this British Columbia 
Electric 1200-class car tripped lightly over the trestle fro?n 
Lulu Island, bound for Mat pole and Vancouver. Symbolic 
of the Pacific Northwest are a sawmill burner and fishing 
boat masts in the dusky background. Stan F. St 


*T4T M 


1 « !* 8 

Maple Leaf Traction 

Canada's Interurbans 

Maple Leaf Traction 

Canada's Interurbans 

iNORTH of U.S. borders the interurban was less 
frequently seen, and nowhere were to be found the 
interconnecting electric networks common to New 
England or the Midwestern states. Over half of the 
Canadian mileage was located in the Province of 
Ontario and virtually all of this was concentrated in 
the southern part of the province bordering Lakes 
Erie and Ontario, where industrial development and 
population were greatest. Elsewhere the vast dis- 
tances and sparse population of the Dominion of- 
fered scant inducement to interurban promoters, 
and few lines were built except those which ven- 
tured out from the largest metropolitan centers. 

The two great Canadian transcontinentals occa- 
sionally took an interest in the interurbans. Cana- 
dian National acquired several important properties 
from predecessor companies upon its formation after 
World War I, and added another to its holdings as 
recently as 1951. Canadian Pacific's electric line ac- 
tivities were confined to an important pair of inter- 
connected lines in Ontario, the Hull Electric Railway 
in Quebec, and the Aroostook Valley Railway in 
Maine. Government ownership of electric railways, 
a practice which was virtually unknown in the 
United States, was much more frequent in the 

On a quiet Sunday evening in 1958 a Quebec Railway, Light & Power 

Company interurban waited at Montmorency Falls, Que., for a late evening 

local run into Quebec City. William D. Middleton. 



!• : 


» i 

l : 'f9S9BBEs|r 1 


■ J 




Chemin de Fer de la Bonne 
Sainte Anne 

Aside from returns on traffic of a suburban 
nature, passenger revenues on the Quebec 
Railway, Light & Power Company's interur- 
ban were derived in large measure from the 
movement of summer visitors to one of North 
America's most celebrated Roman Catholic 
shrines at Ste. Anne de Beaupre. Such was the 
identification of the railway with the shrine 
that among French-Canadians the former was 
widely known as the "Chemin de Fer de la 
Bonne Sainte Anne." Long after its disappear- 
ance elsewhere the trolley excursion continued 
on the Quebec interurban, and the "Special 
Tourist Electric Train Service" remained on 
summer timecards until the end of passenger 
operation. Excursion car 455, whose crew in- 
cluded a bilingual guide-lecturer, waited for 
the return trip in a siding at Ste. Anne during 
the last summer of passenger operation in 1958. 
William D. Middleton. 

For peak movements to the shrine the railway retained a fleet of incredibly antique 
rolling stock, much of it constructed during the 19th century for QRL&P's steam 
road forerunner. This string of 1889 Jackson & Sharp coaches rolled down the 
north bank of the St. Lawrence to Ste. Anne behind a steeple-cab passenger loco- 
motive on the occasion of the annual feast day of Ste. Anne in 1958, the 
tercentenary of the shrine. William D. MlDDLETON. 


Over 100 feet higher than Niagara, Montmorency 
Falls, not far from Quebec, constituted a major 
attraction for trolley excursionists. In earlier 
years the interurban operated a park and me- 
nagerie at the base of the falls, and an incline rail- 
way carried tourists to a hotel at the top of the 
cliff. A short pause on the electric line's bridge 
below the falls was always scheduled for the en- 
joyment of passengers on "tourist specials." After 

completing a local run from the city, this in- 
terurban turned on the wye beside the falls in 
1952. Wooden car No. 401, built in 1902 by Ot- 
tawa Car, remained in operation until abandon- 
ment of the electrification in March 7959, by 
which time the car had long since assumed the 
title of North America's oldest interurban car 
still operating in revenue service. Robert J. 

Until Canadian National acquired the line in 1951, 
the 25-mile QRL&P interurban was the only link 
between the transcontinental and its isolated Murray 
Bay Subdivision. To power CNR passenger trains 
moving over the electric line, QRL&P provided a 
pair of big steeple-cab locomotives. After CNR 

purchased the line steam and diesel power operated 
straight through, but the passenger electrics were 
retained for special movements, such as this train 
of Canadian Pacific equipment leaving Quebec 
in 1958 with 215 nuns from Montreal on a pilgrim- 
age to the shrine. William D. Middleton. 

Among the assets acquired by Canadian National 
from its predecessor Grand Trunk Railway was 
the Montreal & Southern Counties Railway, an in- 
terurban which represented, in part, electrification 
of former steam lines of the Grand Trunk's subsidiary 
Central Vermont. An eventual long-distance elec- 
trification of CV lines was contemplated, but the 
trolley wire never extended beyond Granby, some 
41 miles east of Montreal, which was reached in 1916. 
Much of the company's traffic was of a commuter 
nature to suburban communities across the St. Law- 
rence from Montreal. In 1953 this wooden car 
waited at the McGill Street terminal in Montreal for 
a run to suburban Mackayville. Philip R. Hastings. 

At the conclusion of its electric passen- 
ger operation in 1956, M&SC still used 
much of the same equipment acquired 
to inaugurate service nearly a half century 
before. This train of wooden coaches, 
approaching Canadian National's Vic- 
toria Jubilee Bridge from St. Lambert 
in 1949, was typical. Trailer car 201, at 
the rear of the train, had been on hand 
at the opening of initial Montreal- 
St. Lambert service in 1909. 
William D. Middleton. 


Si §£** 

■. - ^HH 

This M&SC "mixed train," made up of a pair of l.c.l box cars 
and a like number of passenger coaches, was photographed at 
St. Lambert in 1949. Charles A. Brown. 

Following discontinuance of passenger service to Granby in 
1931, M&SC electric cars terminated their runs at Marieville, 
backing around this wye to reverse direction. 
Robert J. Sandusky. 

Waving the motorman back on dead 
slow, an M&SC conductor at Marieville 
ponders the difference in drawbar lev- 
els as he makes up his train. He's going 
to have to get in between there, 
against the rules, and armstrong 
60V s coupler up about 5 inches. 
Philip R. Hastings. 


North from Lake Erie 

An important figure in Ontario traction was Sir 
Adam Beck, founder of the Hydro-Electric Power 
Commission of Ontario. In 1912 he advanced an 
ambitious scheme for a system of "radial railways" 
(as interurbans were commonly known in Ontario) 
which, together with already existing lines, would 
link the Toronto area, the Niagara peninsula, and 
the cities north of Lake Erie with an integrated net- 
work of high grade electric railways. Sir Adam, 
whose power commission represented the first major 
successful public power project in North America, 
envisioned that the Commission would construct, 
equip, and operate the radials for the benefit and at 
the expense of the municipalities concerned, with 
the initial financing to come from bond issues which 
would be guaranteed by the provincial government. 
The Hydro proposal was delayed during a decade 
of political bickering and cessation of construction 
during World War I, perhaps fortunately, as the 
ultimate collapse of interurban railways was to 
prove. Eventually government skepticism about the 
ability of the lines to become self-supporting and 
the all-too-evident growth of highway travel killed 
the plan. 

Electrification of the London & Port Stanley Rail- 
way, a former steam railroad, in 1915 afforded a 
prototype of the sort of electric railways contem- 
plated by the Hydro Commission. Originally con- 
structed in 1856 by London business interests to ob- 
tain lower freight rates than those charged by the 
Great Western (now CNR), the municipally owned 
L&PS was rebuilt and electrified under the direc- 
tion of Sir Adam Beck and the Hydro Commission. 
A 1500- volt D.C. system was employed and the new 
all-steel cars for the service were built to specifica- 
tions of the Commission. Beck himself invited guests 
to the line's June 30, 1915, opening celebration, 
where the project was described as the first step in a 
1500- volt D.C. electrification of Ontario municipal 
railways which would ultimately extend through 
central Ontario from Lake Erie to Georgian Bay. So 
successful was the London & Port Stanley electrifica- 
tion that within three years of its opening the paral- 
lel London & Lake Erie electric line had been forced 
into bankruptcy and abandonment. 

Heading southward to Lake Erie in 1952, a two- 
car L&PS train sped under the catenary just south 
of the Thames River bridge at London. A motor- 
less control trailer of wooden construction pre- 
ceded the steel motor car. Robert J. Sandusky. 

LrzJ^jjn - * 35 


The steel Jewett coach that headed this north- 
bound L&PS train at St. Thomas in 1949 had an 
all-steel roof of unique contour. Constructed for 
the original electrification in 1915, the car was con- 
sidered a prototype for electric cars that radial 

railway proponents believed would soon traverse 

much of central Ontario. To combat the rigors of 

the Canadian winter, the cars came equipped with 

storm sash, a not infrequent feature on Dominion 

interurbans. William D. Middleton. 





With some 100 railroad enthusiast passengers 
aboard, a three-car London & Port Stanley train 
raced southward across the substantial Kettle Creek 
viaduct just north of St. Thomas in 1 952. The train 

was made up of cars acquired in 1941 from the Mil- 
waukee Electric Lines, on which they had been the 
de luxe parlor cars Mendota, Waubasee, and Menom- 
inee. John A. Myers. 


L&PS trains provided Londoners convenient con- 
nections with Michigan Central (NYC) trains at 
St. Thomas, where this train waited at the steam 

line's depot in July of 1956. The diesel in the 
foreground headed a westbound freight. 
Herbert H. Harwood Jr. 

Three of these GE box-cab locomotives powered L&PS freight trains from the time of the 1915 elec- 
trification until dieselization in 1951. This one switched at the London yard in 1949. A. C. Kalmbach. 


The combined trackage of the Lake 
Erie & Northern Railway and the 
Grand River Railway, closely as- 
sociated under Canadian Pacific 
ownership, extended southward 
from the CPR main line at Gait to 
Port Dover on Lake Erie, affording 
the transcontinental system a stra- 
tegic connection to the cities of 
the Grand River valley. Like 
some of the other important On- 
tario lines, LE&N-GRRy operated 
at right angles to the east-west 
trunk lines of the major steam 
railroads. This is the bridge which 
carried the electrics over the 
Michigan Central and Toronto, 
Hamilton & Buffalo lines at Water- 
ford. The car was northbound on 
the last day of passenger operation 
in J955. Robert J. Sandusky. 

StfS ~— — 

Southbound to Port Dover, an LE&N car rolled into 
Simcoe over a well- maintained roadbed in 1950. 
During the latter years of passenger service the Ca- 
nadian Pacific electrics experimented with various 

front end color schemes, designed to improve vis- 
ibility of the oncoming cars for motorists. A yel- 
low checkerboard effect had been applied to this 
wine red coach. William D. Middleton. 


Though elsewhere on the system freight traf- 
fic predominated, the Grand River Railway's 
short Preston-Hespeler branch did a lively pas- 
senger business, and even after World War II 
some 35 daily round trips were offered. The 
sturdy wooden car arriving at Preston was a 
797 5 product of the home-town Preston Car & 
Coach Company. David H. Cope. 

Just arrived from Brantford behind a pair of 

Bald win-W estinghouse steeple-cabs one leaden 

winter day in 7 956, an LE&N freight pulled 

into the Canadian Pacific interchange at Gait, 

where a Mikado freight engine of the parent 

road waited for a westbound trip. Electric 

freight operation on the combined LE&N-GRRy 

continued into 1961. William D. Middleton. 

Prominent in Ontario traction development were 
Sir William MacKenzie and Donald Mann, who had 
been contractors in the construction of the Canadian 
Pacific, and later began construction of their rival 
Canadian Northern in 1896. The most important 
of the four interurbans developed by the MacKenzie, 
Mann & Company partnership was the Niagara, St. 
Catharines & Toronto Railway, which operated 
across the Niagara peninsula between Lakes Erie 
and Ontario, and into Niagara Falls. Ultimately, 
the NStC&T, along with other Canadian Northern 
electric properties, became part of the Canadian 
National system. 

Before the decline of electric railway travel NStC&T 
formed a link in leisurely travel between Buffalo 
and Toronto. From a Niagara Falls (N. Y.) con- 
nection with the International Railway's Buffalo- 
Niagara Falls High Speed Line, cars of the Canadian 
line operated over the old Rainbow Bridge and 
across the peninsula to Port Dalhousie East, where 
a shipside connection with Toronto-bound Lake 
Ontario steamers was made. Such traffic still moved 
in profitable volume in the '20's, as evidenced by 
this train of elegant wooden cars, representing a 
1914 Preston Car & Coach order in its entirety. 
William S. Flatt Collection. 

In the final years of its electric operation NStC&T 
used a group of widely traveled cars on its re- 
maining passenger line between Tborold and Port 
Colborne. Built by the Ottawa Car Company in 
1930 for an ill-advised modernization of the Wind- 
sor, Essex & Lake Shore Railway under Hydro Com- 
mission management, the original group of five 
medium-weight interurbans spent but two years on 
the "Sunshine County Route" before its abandon- 

ment. The cars then moved to Canadian National's 
Montreal & Southern Counties, where they operated 
until 7955, when one went to a Maine museum and 
the remainder were transferred to NStC&T. No. 620 
was ascending the steep grade between Merritton 
and Thorold early on a Sunday morning in 
1956 en route from the carbarn at St. Cath- 
arines to begin the day's operation. William D. 


At speed near Port Colborne on a bleak March day, 620 typified the exciting, exhilarating operation 
of a cross-country interurban paralleling a highway. Unfortunately, no passengers were aboard to enjoy 
the sensation. William D. Middleton. 


Except for two Ft. William (Ont.) 
city cars, Canada's only curved-side 

Cincinnati lightweights, were op- 
erated by the Niagara line in local 

service on the St. Catharines-Port 
Dalhousie route. Charles A. Brown. 

Motors and gears groaned as NStC&T's little steeple- 
cab locomotive No. 19 slowed almost to a walk and 
then settled into a steady stride that finally gained 
her the summit of the steep Merritton hill with 
seven cars of freight for the Welland Subdivision 
in 1956. William D. Middleton. 


L M 


In all the vast reaches of the Canadian prairie there 
was but one interurban, the Winnipeg, Selkirk & 
Lake Winnipeg Railway, which radiated from the 
Manitoba capital to Selkirk and Stonewall. Against 

a frosty backdrop near Stony Mountain, one of the 
line's big wooden combines headed south to Win- 
nipeg on a midafternoon run in the early '30's. 
Stan F. Styles. 

The winter of 1928-1929 and its aftermath proved difficult for the Winnipeg in- 
terurban. Motorman Ray Styles and two sectionmen posed atop a snowbank on 
the Stonewall line after the railway's rotary plow had cleared up the results of 
a February blizzard. Stan F. Styles. 


In April of 1929, the winter's snow melted and produced a severe spring flood, causing this two-car train 
on the Stonewall line to make its way cautiously through water that lapped at the rails. Stan F. Styles. 



Bound for a Fraser Valley excursion on the Chil- 
liwack line, a train of commodious BCER in- 
terurbans paused at New Westminster in 1914. 
four years after the line was opened. Outings to 
the valley by interurban were long popular. 

As late as 1940 BCER operated special "bicycle 
trains" into the country for a Vancouver club. 
A baggage car was provided for the trans- 
portation of members' bicycles. Ernie Plant 

Interurban Trams to Chilliwack. 

Canada's largest interurban system was that of 
the British Columbia Electric Railway, which op- 
erated an extensive suburban service around Van- 
couver, a long and scenic route through the Fraser 
River Valley to Chilliwack, and a disconnected, 
short-lived line north from Victoria on Vancouver 

Island. Vancouver is more British in character than 
much of Canada, and it was not uncommon to hear 
local people speak of the "interurban trams." British 
capital, as a matter of fact, built BCER, and this may 
have accounted for the presence of several British- 
built Dick Kerr electric locomotives among the 
company's roster of otherwise conventional equip- 
ment of North American manufacture. i 


• -1 



• • • • 
.... 1 








/« J9i2, ///>o« //)e occasion of a visit to 
western Canada by the Duke of Con- 
naught, interurban car No. 1 304 was 
repainted, fitted with drapes and a red 
carpet, and the Connaught crest applied 
to each corner in preparation for serv- 
ice on a special train transporting the 
Duke over the Chilliwack line. Fol- 
lowing completion of the trip No. 1304 
was shorn of its special furnishings and 
operated in more mundane passenger 
service until the mid-'50's. It is now 
owned by an Oregon historical group. 
Ernie Plant Collection. 


Against a backdrop of threatening skies, this Fraser Valley train waited on the 
loop at Chilliwack before beginning the 76-mile return trip to Vancouver. 
David A. Strassman. 



While one of the company's PCC streetcars discharged passengers in the street, a pair of BCER in- 
terurbans waited to depart from the Carrall Street depot in Vancouver on their respective late evening 
journeys to Burnaby Lake and New Westminster. Stan F. Styles. 

Highlighted by the morning sun, three cars full of BCER commuters hurried across Gladstone Trestle on a 
12-mile run from New Westminster to Vancouver over the Central Park line. Stan F. Styles. 


Two steam railroads shared the Fraser River bridge at New 
Westminster with interurbans of British Columbia Electric's 
Chilliwack line. In 1948 the two-car interurban train was 
about to follow the center track to Chilliwack. The track to 
the right carried Canadian National transcontinental traffic, 
while that to the left handled international traffic on Great 
Northern's line to Seattle. Ernie Plant. 

Behind a former Oregon Electric steeple-cab locomotive, freight 

extra 961 West waited in a forested siding at Bradner, on the 

Chilliwack line, to permit the passage of a Vancouver passenger 

train headed by baggage motor No. 1700. Stan F. Styles. 


Traction in the Tropics 

>ey Cuban passengers begim their journey 
fr>&rn Havana aboard 5-cent motor launches, 
whttb^ cross the harbor between the old coloni- 
al seclfbuof Havanajfnd the interurban terminal 
at C.asahkinca. Just beyond the noisy waterfront 

dive that houses the ticket office, a three-car 
train waited for the run to Matanzas in 1957. 
The big maroon cars were little changed from 
the day they rolled out of the J. G. Brill 
plant 40 years before. William D. Middleton. 


Traction in the Tropics 

oOUTH of U. S. borders the interurban was almost 
nonexistent. Street railways were a common means 
of mass transportation in the larger cities of Central 
and South America, and remain so today in many 
cases. But only occasionally, in such cities as Mexico 
City and Buenos Aires, did electric railways venture 
into the suburban countryside on lines with interur- 
ban characteristics. 

Both severe topography and an almost continual 
state of revolution that discouraged investment capi- 
tal during much of the interurban era combined to 
deter the development of true interurbans in 
Mexico. The Mexican Tramways Company in 1927 
advanced an interesting proposal to construct a 130- 
mile electric interurban from Mexico City to Pueblo, 
and another, 60 miles in length, to Pachuca, but 
nothing ever came of it. 

A notable exception to the dearth of interurbans 
in Latin America was Cuba's Hershey Cuban Rail- 
way, which survives into 1961 as the last example 
in all North America of the typical heavy electric 
interurban railway.* The Hershey Cuban's princi- 
pal reason for existence was the development by 
the parent Hershey Chocolate Corporation of its 
own Cuban sugar enterprise at the end of World 
War I. A vast acreage of sugar plantations and sev- 
eral mills, for conversion of the cane to raw brown 
sugar, were centered around the company's prin- 

ed by decree of the Ca 

cipal mill, a refinery, and power plant at Central 
Hershey, east of Havana. A network of rail lines 
was constructed to gather the cane from the sur- 
rounding plantations, and a main line was installed 
to transport the refined sugar down to Havana har- 
bor. Developing its railroad on the principle that it 
should be a self-supporting enterprise rather than 
just an accessory to sugar manufacture, Hershey ex- 
tended the main line to Matanzas, 56 miles east of 
Havana, in order to establish a year-around com- 
mon carrier freight and passenger business. 

Crews of Jamaican laborers completed the first 
section of line, between Havana and Central Her- 
shey, in 1918, and it was immediately placed in 
operation with steam power to haul construction 
materials for the refinery and power plant. The en- 
tire railway, comprising some 100 track miles under 
a 1200-volt D.C. catenary system, and several times 
that amount of steam-operated sugar cane trackage, 
was officially opened four years later. 

The J. G. Brill Company delivered a fleet of heavy 
maroon-clad wood and steel multiple-unit interur- 
bans. Interiors were plainly finished in mahogany 
and were fitted with durable rattan-upholstered 
walkover seats. Splendidly maintained by the rail- 
way's thoroughly equipped shops, these cars re- 
main today in virtually "as built" condition. A 
group of lighter single-unit cars, designed for 
branch-line service, came a few years later from the 
Cincinnati Car Company, i 


Late one June afternoon in 1957 train No. 33, 
westbound from Central Hershey to Casablanca, 
backed into the siding at Justiz for a cruzando 
(meet) with eastbound Matanzas train No. 8. 
Headed by a big wood-bodied mail-baggage car, 
the three-car train came swaying through the 

tropical undergrowth at a respectable 30 miles per 
hour. Train crews shouted cheerful Spanish greet- 
ings, the conductor threw the switch to let No. 33 
back on the main line, and the journey to Casa- 
blanca was once more in progress. William D. 




Central Hershey is a handsome "company town" 
with elegant residences for company executives and 
such attractions as a golf course, tropical gardens, 
and a comfortable small hotel. Tours of the re- 
finery have long been popular, and in earlier years 
the railway offered a handy "package tour" from 
Havana which included interurban transportation, 
a conducted tour of the sugar mill, lunch at the 
Hershey Hotel, and an automobile tour through 
the scenic byways of the surrounding countryside. 
Four times daily the Hershey Cuban's mainline 
passenger trains are scheduled to meet at Central 
Hershey. During the ^-minute stop of a pair of 
Casablanca-Matanzas trains one hot June morn- 
ing, the quiet station became the scene of frantic 

activity. The brown-uniformed train crews gath- 
ered on the platform to exchange small talk, 
while crowds of passengers boarded and left the 
interurbans. The camarero (baggageman) un- 
loaded a few pieces of express. Friends and idlers 
chatted through open windows, and a boy passed 
from window to window hawking candies held 
up on a stick for the passengers' inspection. Then 
the motoristas returned to their controllers, and 
the conductors signaled departure time with a 
blast from their whistles. The big red cars went 
rumbling out of town, the crowd thinned, dogs 
went back to sleep in the shade, and Central Hershey 
station grew quiet again. All Photos, William D. 


Clattering along an irregular roadbed, 
the ponderous interurbans nosed gently 
from side to side as they followed the 
rails through a verdant trough in 
vegetation that frequently stands as 
high as a man. Windows were thrown 
wide open to the warmth of the Cuban 
summer. William D. Middleton. 

Awaiting the end of the day shift, 
a Cincinnati-built interurban stood 
in the street outside the main gate 
of the Central Hershey sugar mill 
and refinery. Soon the train would 
be off with homeward-bound work- 
ers to Santa Cruz del Norte, on the 
edge of the Atlantic. The June 
afternoon was hot and humid, and 
an ice cream salesman was doing 
business in the shade of a nearby 
tree. William D. Middleton. 

W' >; 

■ X- >v 3* 






w A 

_ . 





■ EL/a 





Approaching Matanzas the Hershey Cuban traverses 
some of central Cuba's finest scenery. Having just 
completed its circuit of the spectacular Yumuri 
Valley, an eastbound train came rolling between 

the rock cliffs of the gap which carries the Yumuri 
River, a country road, and the interurban from the 
valley to the Bay of Matanzas. William D. 



Inter urban No. 21 3 had just completed its daily afternoon run from Central 
Hershey to Bainoa. While the crew stepped into the weathered masonry depot 
shared with the Occidentales de Cuba to call the dispatcher for return trip orders, 
a small boy clambered about the fascinating electric car. William D. Middleton. 

Returning to Central Hershey from an afternoon trip down the Bainoa branch, 
Cincinnati interurban 213 rejoined the Hershey Cuban main line at San Mateo 

Junction. William D. Middleton. 









Powered by a bright silver and red diesel, 
Hershey's weekly mixed train departed 
from Central San Antonio for the return 
trip over nonele drifted branch-line track- 
age to Central Hershey. With eight tank 
cars of molasses, a box car of miscellaneous 
freight, and a Brill interurban trailer, the 
little diesel had all it could do to get the 
train under way. William D. Middleton. 

Time freight No. 53, westbound from 
Matanzas to Havana harbor behind a 
pair of GE steeple-cab locomotives, headed 
out of the siding at Canasi as an east- 
bound passenger train cleared the main 
line. William D. Middleton. 

Almost hidden by trackside growth, east- 
bound Havana- Matanzas time freight 
52 came grinding up the long grade into 
Central Hershey. The steeple-cabs' panto- 
graphs reached high for the 1200-volt 
catenary. William D. Middleton. 

A trim little GE locomotive switched Ferrocarriles Occidentals de Cuba passen- 
ger cars at Havana's Central Station in 1957. The Occidentals, formerly the 
Havana Central, once operated interurban passenger equipment in an extensive 
suburban service, and is still possessed of a generous amount of 600-volt overhead 
in the Havana area. William D. Middleton. 







7. '- 

As the electric street and interurban railways declined in North America, a con- 
siderable amount of their still-serviceable rolling stock found its way to the electric 
lines of Central and South America. In 1952 a train of former Pacific Electric 
Hollywood suburban cars, still attired in PE red and orange colors, operated 
left-handed on the Federico Lacroze line of the Ferrocarril Nacional General 
Urquiza at Buenos Aires. William D. Middleton Collection. 




Wrecks and Other Mishaps 


TA<? combination of a dispatcher's lap order and a foggy 
November morning had this violent aftermath at Fair- 
view, Ida., in 1917 on the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Rail- 
way. The conductor on the almost completely telescoped 
wooden express motor was killed and three other crew- 
men were seriously injured. Fred Fellow Collection. 


Wrecks and Other Mishaps 

DISASTER AND DEATH along the rails were 
sometimes a part of the interurban era. Most in- 
terurbans were single tracked and rarely were 
equipped with such safety refinements as block sig- 
nals. The tragedy of a high-speed collision result- 
ing from an overlooked meeting point or a forgotten 
special train, combined, perhaps, with the restricted 
visibility of hills and curves or a foggy night, is a 
recurring theme in interurban history. 

The first interurban, Portland's East Side Rail- 
way, was only a few months old when the car Inez, 
inbound from Oregon City one misty November 
morning, slid on frosty rail and plunged through 
the open Madison Street drawbridge in Portland. 
Most of the passengers saved themselves by jumping 
as the interurban hung in the air momentarily, but 
7 were killed when the car plummeted into 35 feet 
of water. 

The worst interurban accident of all occurred at 
Kingsland, Ind., on September 21, 1910, when an 
extra car on the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Trac- 
tion Company overran a meeting point and collided 
head-on at high speed with a northbound local. The 
crowded local was completely telescoped, and 41 lost 
their lives in the splintered wreckage of the wood- 
en car. 

The old adage that "bad accidents come in threes" 
seemed to hold some truth, for during the same week 
that the Kingsland disaster occurred, 5 were killed in 
a collision on the neighboring Indiana Union Trac- 
tion Company, and less than two weeks later 36 met 
death in a head-on Illinois Traction System crash, 
which took place under similar circumstances of an 
overlooked meet. 

The public outcry following the Kingsland and 
other accidents was predictable. The Indiana Rail- 
road Commission demanded the installation of block 
signals on all interurbans in the state. Illinois Trac- 
tion voluntarily began the costly installation of sig- 

nals on all of its major lines and by 1915 had 150 
miles of track under continuous block signals. Adept 
at making the best of a bad thing, ITS extracted 
maximum publicity benefits from its new signals. 
Full-size models of the signals were displayed on 
street corners in principal cities, and the workings 
of their mechanism explained to the curious. "Travel 
is perfection under IT block protection," proclaimed 
the company's advertising, and nervous passengers 
were assured "they never sleep." 

Sometimes the lessons taught by disaster are for- 
gotten, and in 1950, 40 years after the Kingsland 
wreck, the last big accident of the interurban era 
occurred under almost identical circumstances, when 
two Milwaukee interurban excursion trains collided 
head-on with a loss of 10 lives. A misunderstand- 
ing of orders sent the two trains racing toward each 
other on single track, and just as at Kingsland, an 
overgrowth of trackside brush at a curve obscured 
visibility for the motormen until too late. 

More often though, interurban mishaps were not 
so deadly. One of the most bizarre and spectacular 
interurban accidents, which happened on the In- 
diana Service Corporation at Lafayette, Ind., in 1930, 
took place with the almost miraculous absence of 
serious injury or death. Approaching Lafayette from 
Fort Wayne, motorman Frank Simons, after ap- 
parently suffering an attack of dizziness or a faint- 
ing spell, toppled through the open door of his in- 
terurban car. Running wild with the power still on, 
the big wooden car reached an estimated speed of 45 
miles per hour before leaving the rails on a curve in 
the streets of Lafayette and plunging into a grocery 
store, tearing out the entire front of the building 
and finally coming to rest within the store in a mass 
of tumbled merchandise and debris. The interur- 
ban's passengers escaped with bruises and were se- 
verely shaken up. The narrowest escape of all was 
experienced by little Jimmy Moore, who was in the 


I tfCMMftuMOMtfW 

Forty-one persons died when these two interurbans slammed together with 
brutal force at Kingsland, Ind., in 191Q. It was the worst crash of the interurban 
era. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

store directly in the path of the runaway car. Buried 
in the wreckage, the 7-year-old emerged with only 
minor cuts. An estimated 10,000 people visited the 
scene of the crash and watched efforts to free the in- 
terurban from the wreckage. 

An Illinois line, the Rockford & Interurban, 
seemed to have recurrent trouble with dairy cattle. 
On one occasion, not far from Rockford, one of the 
line's cars struck a cow, which became wedged under 
the car, threw it off the track, and left it at right 
angles to the rails. On another occasion a car ran 

into a whole herd of cows which had lain down on 
the rails at night. Twenty cattle were killed before 
the car finally derailed and very nearly plunged into 
the Pecatonica River. 

A somewhat similar mishap occurred in Ohio in 
1907, after a bull escaped from a slaughterhouse at 
Jimtown, near Wapakoneta. After chasing residents, 
the bull wandered onto the nearby tracks of the 
Western Ohio Railway where it charged head-on 
into an interurban car. The contest was a draw, for 
the bull was killed and the interurban derailed. 


Anti-climbers did not always prevent 
cars from telescoping. In 1949 a 
Milwaukee Electric local car missed 
a passenger waiting at Soldiers Home 
station, backed up through a protect- 
ing block signal, and was rammed by 
a limited train running in the yellow 
block. The local car was obscured 
until the last minute by a hill and 
curve. The impact peeled the sides 
and roof of the limited car like a 
banana and shoved the locked cars 1 50 
feet down the track. None of the 21 
passengers were fatally injured, but 
the horror-stricken waiting passenger 
who witnessed the roaring crash fled 
the scene, never to be identified. 
The Milwaukee Journal. 

Disaster was narrowly averted near Delaware, O., 
in 1914 on the Columbus, Delaware & Marion Rail- 
way when an unemployed railroad fireman named 
Bickle telephoned the dispatcher to advise that a 
stretch of track had been torn up in an attempt to 
wreck a car. Suspicious officials determined that the 
unfortunate Bickle had attempted the train wreck- 
ing himself in the hope that by doing them the serv- 
ice of calling in time to save the road from accident 
he would be taken into their employ. 

A newsworthy mishap of another sort took place 
near Cleveland in 1905. The New York Central then 
had an interest in a number of New York state elec- 

tric lines, and the Central's William K. Vanderbilt 
Jr. was making a tour of a number of Ohio in- 
terurbans aboard the Everett-Moore syndicate's lux- 
urious private car Josephine. Vanderbilt's jour- 
ney over the Lake Shore Electric was disrupted 
when an overheated motor set fire to the floor of the 
car. Members of the inspection party rushed to a 
nearby farmhouse for water to extinguish the blaze, 
and the Josephine was then hauled to a nearby re- 
pair shop. While the necessary repairs were being 
made, the entire party played baseball, and Mr. Van- 
derbilt proved to be a star player, a news story of 
the event reported. 



This car of the Ballston Terminal 

Railroad of New York drew quite 

a crowd after lunging off the 

rails and heading for the river. 

Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

The Salt Lake & Utah Railroad's 
observation car 751 was uncere- 
moniously dumped into the street 
after this grade crossing tangle 
with a Denver & Rio Grande 
switch engine at Provo in 1917. 
Fred Fellow Collection. 

Both wrecking crew and dapper idlers 
posed for the photographer during 

efforts to restore the derailed Elmira 

to the rails on the Elmira & Seneca 

Lake line in New York in 1903. 

William R. Gordon Collection. 

This particularly violent head-on col- 
lision occurred in a fog north of Can- 
ton, III., on the Illinois Central Electric 
Railway. Car No. 12 (background), 
since it was higher, overrode car 
No. 9, completely destroying it. 
Paul Stringham Collection. 


f ■ 


Little more than twisted steel re- 
mained of these Waterloo, Cedar 
Falls & Northern interurbans in 
195-t after a nocturnal fire wiped 
out the Waterloo roundhouse. The 
lone interurban that escaped the 
blaze managed to provide all of 
the company's passenger service 
until its discontinuance in 1956. 
William S. Kuba Jr. 

Fire, as a matter of fact, was a constant threat 
to the interurbans, particularly during the earlier 
years, when wooden cars and inflammable carbarns 
were common and electrical apparatus was often er- 
ratic. A few years after the Vanderbilt party mishap 
another fire had more serious consequences and the 
glittering Josephine was completely destroyed. Simi- 
lar spectacular conflagrations were recorded in the 
history of almost every interurban road with usual- 
ly little more remaining than a few smoldering em- 
bers and a tangle of heat-twisted metal parts. An- 
other all too common occurrence was the midnight 
carbarn fire, which more than once left a line with 
hardly a single car available at the start of business 
the following morning. 

The heyday of the train robber was fairly well 
over by the time the interurban arrived on the Amer- 

ican scene, but there were a few more or less ama- 
teurish attempts to knock off an interurban car in 
the grand manner of the Old West. One of the first 
trolley car holdup attempts occurred on the St. Paul- 
Minneapolis Inter-Urban Electric in 1893. Five 
toughs boarded the midnight car from St. Paul, and 
when it had reached a deserted spot along the line, 
one of them pulled down the trolley pole while 
the others set upon the conductor, one of them in- 
flicting a 2-inch stab wound. The intrepid motor- 
man came to the rescue with his brass lever and, ac- 
cording to a contemporary account, "the way he 
cranked it was a caution to evil-doers, and caused a 
general stampede." The conductor replaced the 
trolley pole and the car escaped amidst a shower of 
stones that smashed all its windows and caused other 
damage, but no money was lost to the thugs. 

What newspapers described as the most sensational 
street accident in Vancouver (B. C.) history occurred 
in 1947 when a British Columbia Electric interur- 
ban train (left) ran amuck. As the train left the 
interurban depot, motorman James Dinsmore was 
knocked unconscious when a WO-volt short circuit 

passed through the controls of his two-car train. 
Hurtling out of control into the street, the inter- 
urban sent a taxi flying, derailed two streetcars, and 
crushed an automobile in the wreckage. A hun- 
dred persons were shaken up by the crash but 
miraculously there were no fatalities. Ernie Plant. 

As automobiles became common- 
place, the grade-crossing accident 
became a distressingly frequent 
occurrence. The interurban, like 
this Pacific Electric car, usually 
won out over the early flivvers. 
Ira L. Swett Collection. 

Dewirement was a frequent 
minor mishap on trolley lines. 
After the 620 's trolley left the 
wire in a high cross wind 
and slammed against the cross- 
arms, the Niagara, St. Catha- 
rines & Toronto crew strug- 
gled to replace the wrecked 
pole with the spare carried 
for just such emergencies. 
William D. Middleton. 

A pair of bandits who attempted to stick up a 
Seattle-Tacoma car on the Puget Sound Electric Rail- 
way in 1914 fared even worse. Once their intentions 
were made known, the pair were overpowered and 
beaten into insensibility by passengers, and a news 
account of the affair held little hope for their 

Two masked bandits who held up a British Co- 
lumbia Electric interurban train on the Marpole line 
in 1913 were more successful, managing to make 
their escape into a nearby wood after extracting ap- 
proximately S100 from the train crew and passen- 

Another pair of masked bandits, who knocked 
off a Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern car at 
Maywood, Ind., in 1923, were better compensated 
for their efforts. After stopping the car on signal, 
the two climbed aboard, firing into and through the 
car. The passengers and crew were forced outside, 
lined up along the track, and relieved of better than 
S1000 in cash and valuables. 

What was probably the most lucrative heist of the 
traction era took place on Pennsylvania's Laurel Line 
interurban in 1923. Bearing 870,126 among them, 
the paymaster of the West End Colliery of Mocana- 
qua, an assistant paymaster, and two armed guards 
boarded a morning limited at Scranton. Taking the 
group by surprise, five roughly dressed armed ban- 
dits opened fire within the car near Moosic station, 
successfully relieved the men of the payroll, and 
made good their escape from the interurban. During 
the melee one passenger was killed, and the motor- 
man and two other passengers wounded. Eventually 
the entire band was apprehended and brought to 

XT*-* ww 


m 1 1' 



": .v 

Ttfo Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville cars suffered embarrassment after unsuccessfully contesting track 
space in the Gloversville (N. Y.) yard. William R. Gordon Collection. 


Weather sometimes got the best of the electric cars. 
Floodwater stranded an International Railway Ni- 
agara Falls interurhan at Tonairanda, N. Y., in 1918. 
William R. Gordon Collection, from Stephen D. 

Sometimes individuals of a larcenous bent ap- 
plied more subtle methods against the traction com- 
panies. In 1930 a crew engaged in an ek-ctrolysis 
survey on the lines of the Milwaukee Electric was 
sent out to take ground current flow readings dur- 
ing the early morning hours when no cars were 
operating. The men were puzzled to find that large 
amounts of current were flowing through the rails 
despite the absence of interurban cars. Investiga- 
tion revealed that a Cudahy garage owner had rigged 
a bare copper wire across a street above the trolley 
wire. At night, when no one was looking, the wire 
was lowered onto the trolley wires and free elec- 
tricity was drawn for battery charging and other 

Trespassers on private right of way were found 
to be a problem by many interurbans. In 1910 one 
line tried the experiment of providing its motor- 
men with circular letters of warning which could 
be thrown to trespassers. No one, it was discovered, 
took much notice of the circulars, and the practice 
was discontinued. 

Collapse of the bridge over the Miami River at Day- 
ton, O., under a two-car freight train in 1932 was 
the last straw for the bankrupt Dayton & Troy Elec- 
tric Railway. With no money in the till to repair the 
damage, the company abandoned its entire line a week 
after the mishap. O. F. Lee Collection. 

A trainload of steel proved too heavy for the 

Sacramento Northern s long Lisbon trestle in 

1951, and the structure went down like a row 

of dominoes. Getting the train out proved 

to be a major task. Fred H. Matthews Jr. 

Obstreperous passengers sometimes made life dif- 
ficult for the interurban trainmen. Consider this 
accident report filed by a conductor on the Grays 
Harbor Railway & Light Company (Washington) in 
1914: "A man at Hoquiam came on the car at 7 p.m. 
He spit and expectorated all over the car and when 
I asked him to quit he swore strong at me. Then he 
vomited all over a seat and on the floor. 1 told him 
to clean it up or I would have him arrested. He 
started to clean it up, and then he went to the door, 
jumped from the car, and ran down E Street to the 
river and jumped in. I stopped the car, ran after the 
man, jumped in the river, dragged him out, and had 
him arrested for spitting on the floor of the car." 

Another interurban rescue, under more heroic 
circumstances, brought Lake Shore Electric motor- 
man William Lang national recognition in the 
form of a Carnegie Medal and an I.C.C. medal ap- 
proved by President Roosevelt. Rounding a curve 
at 55 miles per hour Lang spotted a child playing 
on the tracks and slammed on the brakes of his 
Toledo limited car. Realizing that the wheels were 
sliding and the car could not be stopped in time, 
Lang climbed out on the car fender and snatched 
2-year-old Lelia Smith to safety. 

Life was seldom dull for the men who ran the 
cars. 1 



r* "*"" 

The electric-powered rotary plow that kept the 
line clear on the Oneonta & Mohawk Valley, in up- 
state New York's snow belt, obviously had its work 
cut out for it. In addition to snow removal prob- 
lems, winter weather provided a jew difficulties 

peculiar to interurban operation. Sleet frequently 
disrupted current collection from both third-rail 
and overhead, and the trolley wire sometimes 
snapped under the contraction caused by extreme 
cold. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 

Where they traversed city streets, interurban and street railways usually took 

care of snow removal with electrically powered rotary sweepers. The McGuire- 

Cummings standard four-wheel sweeper was common anywhere snow fell. 

and its big rattan brushes sent up a barrage of ice chips that had the hardiest 

of pedestrians ducking for cover. This sweeper cleared track in Winnipeg 

after a Manitoba blizzard in 1949. Stan F. Styles. 

The Philadelphia & West Chester's rotary No. 1, shown on the West Chester line 
around 1907, didn't have quite such arduous duties as the O&MV's plow, and 
the company's successor, Philadelphia Suburban, manages to get along very 
well without it. These plows had rotary blades at both ends, a practice more 
common on electric than on steam railroads. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


Trolley Freight 




The Inland Empire System, whose electric lines centered about Spo- 
kane, Wash., was typical of the western interurbans on which carload 
freight traffic was a major revenue source from their very begin- 
ning. These Baldwin-W estinghouse box-cab locomotives were on the 
company's Moscow (Ida.) line, which was electrified with a 25-cycle, 
6600-volt single-phase system. Wheat was the principal commodity 
carried on Inland Empire freights. LeRoy O. King Jr. Collection. 


Trolley Freight 

IN a few cases the interurban railways were former 
steam-powered short lines, already doing a sub- 
stantial freight business, and in many still develop- 
ing areas of the West, where only limited steam 
railroad service was available, electric lines were 
often built to serve as both passenger and freight 
carriers. Indeed, many of the Western interurbans 
were built as feeder lines to the large steam rail- 
roads, or were later acquired by them for that pur- 
pose. But the majority of interurban roads were 
conceived principally as passenger carriers, and 
generally little attention was given in their design 
and construction to the requirements of freight train 

Even those lines originally built exclusively for 
passenger transportation soon found that light 
freight and express traffic could be a profitable side- 
line. The very nature of interurban service, with 
cars operating on fast, frequent schedules, made it 
possible to provide a service far superior to that of 
the steam railroads. Such traffic as newspapers, milk 
and cream, fruit, produce, and small merchandise 
shipments could be loaded aboard the baggage com- 
partments of the regular cars, and even lines with- 
out cars so arranged found they could develop 
worth-while extra revenues by transporting small 
parcel shipments on the front platform with the 
motorman at nominal charges of 25 cents or 50 cents 
per parcel. 

Once the possibilities of the trolley freight busi- 
ness became apparent, interurbans began to inten- 
sively promote its development. Even before World 
War I, when a few lines were starting to lose 
passengers to automobiles, interurbans began to re- 
gard freight traffic as a good area to recover the lost 

The handling of perishables between farm and 
market, with their requirement for fast service, was 
a particularly lucrative traffic. To help develop such 
business the New England Investment & Securities 

Company, a New Haven Railroad subsidiary which 
controlled a group of electric lines in central Mas- 
sachusetts, sponsored in 1910 a four-car "Trolley 
Farming Special," which toured 300 miles of trolley 
line in the Springfield-Worcester area with agricul- 
tural and forestry exhibits. In 1915 Fort Wayne & 
Northern Indiana operated a similar two-car agri- 
cultural exhibit and lecture train over electric lines 
in Indiana. The Portland Railway, Light & Power 
Company organized an agricultural department to 
furnish farmers with information on the growing 
of feed for hog and cattle raising, and the Bangor 
Railway & Electric Company operated a 40-acre 
demonstration farm — staffed with a University of 
Maine agriculturalist — to promote better farming 
practices in its territory. In 1914 the Lehigh Valley 
Transit Company and the Philadelphia & Western 
Railway joined in establishing a "farmers' market" 
at 69th and Market streets in Philadelphia for the 
sale of produce brought in on the electric cars. 

Efforts to develop interurban freight traffic were 
confronted with numerous difficulties. The physical 
limitations of steep grades, light construction, and 
sharp curves often precluded the operation of stand- 
ard freight equipment, and made necessary the con- 
struction of special cars which were noninterchange- 
able with steam railroads. In some areas trolley lines 
were built to nonstandard track gauges, effectively 
preventing interline freight traffic development. 
Pennsylvania electric lines, for example, were gen- 
erally built to a 5-foot 2 1 /i-inch "Pennsylvania 
broad gauge." 

Often severe restrictions on freight operation 
through city streets proved a handicap. Many cities 
restricted the length and frequency of freight trains, 
and some confined freight operation to nighttime 
hours only. Such objections were not without 
reason. Long, lumbering trolley freight trains could 
be an infernal nuisance in traffic-congested streets, 
and there were valid objections on grounds of safety. 


Pennsylvania's Hersbey Transit 
Company was representative of the 
majority of electric lines which de- 
rived nonpassenger revenues from 
the box-motor carriage of express 
and small freight shipments. Trans- 
portation of milk to the plant of 
parent Hersbey Chocolate Company 
was a major traffic for the Hersbey 
line. From Stephen D. Maguire. 

Usually unable to engage in freight 
interchange with steam railroads, the 
interurbans of the Ohio-Indiana-Michi- 
gan network turned to development 
of their own interchange operation, em- 
ploying equipment designed to ne- 
gotiate restrictive interurhan curves. 
These electric freight trailers were lined 
up at the Northern Ohio Traction & 
Light Company's Akron freighthouse 
in 1926. George Krambles Collection. 

The trailers hauled by this Fort 
Wayne, Van Wert & Lima box 
motor were constructed to stand- 
ards established by the Central 
Electric Railway Association 
to permit their use in the in- 
terline freight operation of the 
Midwestern interurbans. The 
Fort Wayne-Lima line was one 
of three connecting routes be- 
tween the Ohio and Indiana 
systems. O. F. Lee Collection. 

In addition to the usual prob- 
lems which made freight inter- 
change with steam lines dif- 
ficult, the broad-gauge track of 
many Pennsylvania interurbans 
prevented them from handling 
steam road cars. The West Penn 
Railways and the connecting 
Pittsburgh Railways managed 
to develop their own modest 
I.e. I interchange business with 
these "Consolidated Electric 
Freight" box motors. 
Charles A. Brown Collection. 

This was convincingly demonstrated in 1927 by the 
Detroit, Jackson & Chicago Railway at Ann Arbor, 
Mich., when four cars of sheet steel got away from 
a trolley freight crew on the West Huron Street hill. 
Failing to make the curve at Main Street, the 
runaway cars demolished the Farmers & Merchants 
Bank, doing $50,000 worth of damage. 

The City of Detroit required that freight cars be 
similar in appearance to passenger cars, and re- 
stricted operation of the freight cars to single units 
only, not less than 2 hours apart in each direction. 
A gondola car built for coal and ash service on 
the Philadelphia & Easton Electric Railway in 1910 
had to be disguised with a roof and gaily striped 
side curtains before city officials would permit it to 
be moved through the streets. In 1932 Milwaukee 
residents, complaining that the passage of heavy 
Milwaukee Electric freight trains was damaging 
their homes, obtained a court order requiring the 

company to limit freight space to not more than a 
quarter of the total area of the car. 

But in many regions the greatest obstacle to the 
development of widespread interurban freight traf- 
fic was the refusal of steam railroads to have any- 
thing at all to do with the electric lines. The inter- 
vention of the courts, state public utilities commis- 
sions, or the Interstate Commerce Commission was 
not infrequently required to compel steam railroads 
to interchange carload freight traffic with inter- 
urbans, and in more than one case a steam road 
fought its case to the U. S. Supreme Court before 
accepting such a ruling. The steam railroad op- 
position to the new electric lines sometimes reached 
ridiculous extremes, as in the case of the Youngs- 
town & Southern, an Ohio interurban, which was 
forced to power its freight trains with steam before 
the steam road members of the Central Freight Asso- 
ciation would agree to interchange traffic with it. 


Despite the broad-gauge handicap, Philadelphia & 
West Chester Traction Company was able to do 
a brisk business in I.e. I. freight and milk. A box 

motor unloaded milk for Philadelphia about 1923 
at the company's 63rd and Market freight station. 
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation. 

In addition to a carload freight business the Salt Lake & Utah offered a "Red Arrow Fast Freight" service 
for express and small freight shipments. Free pickup and delivery were provided for I.e. I. shipments. 
Unfortunately, this type of business, which constituted the majority of interurban freight traffic, 
proved just as vulnerable to highway competition as passenger traffic had. Fred Fellow Collection. 

This scene on the Illinois Terminal at Bloomington, III., illustrates 
the difficulty encountered in handling freight around the streetcar 
curves found on interurban lines. Henry J. McCord. 

Illinois Terminal developed a special double-jointed coupling for company-owned box cars in order 

to make the curves on its line through Bloomington. Other interurbans used radial couplers, 

or employed slotted coupler knuckles and intermediate drawbars. Henry J. McCord. 

Largely unable, because of physical restrictions 
and steam road intransigence, to interchange freight 
cars with steam railroads, Midwestern interurbans 
developed their own standard trolley freight car 
designs and operated an extensive interline freight 
service over the interconnecting traction networks 
of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. The traction freight 
service was usually far superior to that of the steam 

A freight terminal was built in conjunction 
with Indianapolis' great Traction Terminal, and the 
interurban people boasted that they could deliver 
shipments within 75 miles of the city the same day 
the goods were ordered. Following-day deliveries 

were possible almost anywhere in Indiana and Ohio. 

A number of electric lines in northern Indiana and 
southern Michigan joined in through less-than-car- 
load-lot traffic arrangements with Lake Michigan 
steamship companies, a service that saved a day or 
more for shipments destined beyond Chicago. Faster 
electric service made it possible to get livestock to 
market before the usual shrinkage in weight 
occurred, and several of the Indiana lines developed 
a profitable stock business employing special trol- 
ley cattle cars. In 1922 some 8500 cars of livestock 
were moved into Indianapolis by interurban. 

Occasionally the Midwest interurbans joined in 
the operation of fast through freight trains, similar 


in concept to the lines' many through passenger 
operations. Perhaps the first such service was the 
Cannonball Express, inaugurated in 1914 as a 
joint operation of five electric lines and the Wells 
Fargo Express Company. The Express ran on a 
fast limited schedule between Indianapolis and 
Benton Harbor, Mich., where Chicago connections 
were made with the Graham & Morton Steamship 
Company. Such fast time freights as the overnight 
Indianapolis-Detroit Aeroplane connected many of 
the major cities of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. 

Trolley freight equipment was constructed in a 
tremendous variety of types and sizes. For express 
or light freight service the "box-motor" or "express- 
motor" unit, more or less resembling a motorized 
baggage car, was widely employed. Usually equipped 
with more powerful motors than passenger cars, 
and geared for pulling power rather than speed, 
box motors were often capable of operating with 
short trains of freight trailers. Some lines built 
similar motors which were equipped as refrigerator 
or cattle cars. 

For heavier freight operation, particularly when 
steam railroad cars were handled, small electric 
locomotives, usually of the B-B double-truck ar- 
rangement, were favored. Most were some variation 
of the "steeple-cab" type, which derived its name 
from the appearance suggested by low hoods at each 
end sloping up toward a cab in the center. Noisy 
equipment, such as blowers and compressors, was 

The bane of freight operations on the Sacramento 
Northern Railroad was the route over the Oak- 
land hills, where grades up to 4 per cent were en- 
countered. This southbound freight had success- 
fully made the climb and was descending into 
Oakland late one afternoon in 1951. Pusher engine 
No. 652, a standard General Electric unit, had al- 
ready dropped its pantograph. William D. 



During the last years of the interurban era a lively 
trade in used freight locomotives developed, and 
some of the machines survived as many as three 
abandonments of electric service. The 50-ton Charles 

City Western No. 303, wheeling westward across 
Iowa farmland to Marble Rock in 1955, had 
originally operated on the Texas Electric Railway, 
where it had been built. William D. Middleton. 

Potomac Edison steeple-cab locomotive No. 10 was typical of the hundreds of double-truck units 
operated by interurban railways. Most of them averaged 50 to 60 tons, but weights ranged from 30 
to 100 tons. The 10, at Frederick, Md., was dwarfed by an ordinary box car. H. N. Proctor. 


usually enclosed in the hoods, and the shortened cab 
provided excellent visibility during switching oper- 
ations. A less widely seen variation was the "box- 
cab" locomotive, which had a cab extending the full 
length of the locomotive, containing all of its elec- 
trical and mechanical equipment. 

A few of the larger interurban roads found that 
the double-truck locomotive just wasn't big enough 
for their requirements, and developed 16-wheel, 
4-truck locomotives which employed articulated 
frames to permit negotiation of tight interurban 
curves. The biggest interurban locomotives of all 
were three 24-wheel monsters acquired in 1949 by 
the Chicago South Shore & South Bend. Originally 
built for the U.S.S.R. but never delivered because of 
strategic export restrictions, the GE machines 
were among the most powerful single-cab electric 
locomotives ever constructed, weighed better than 
270 tons, and had an hourly rating of over 5500 

In several notable respects interurban freight 
operators pioneered important innovations in rail- 
road freight equipment and service well ahead of 
their steam railroad competitors. Locomotive stand- 
ardization, for example, was common in the 
traction industry years before the diesel motive 
power revolution brought it to the steam roads. 
While steam lines were still ordering custom-built 
motive power, such manufacturers as Baldwin- 
Westinghouse and General Electric were offering 
standard lines of electric locomotives to electric 
railways. And multiple-unit control made it pos- 
sible for trolley roads to operate together any num- 
ber of their standardized freight motors controlled 
from a single unit, employing the same fundamental 
"building block" principle now used with diesel 
power to assemble a motive power combination suit- 
able for trains of any size. 

At the time of its construction by Northern Electric 's 
Cbico (Calif.) shops in 1911, 82-ton No. 1010 
was said to be the largest and heaviest interurban 
locomotive in the West. All electrical equipment 
teas carried beneath the floor and the elongated 
body provided space for I.e. 1. freight. In 1930 NE- 
successor Sacramento Northern rebuilt the big lo- 
comotive along more conventional lines. 
Western Pacific Railroad. 

Pennsylvania's Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley 
Railroad operated a pioneer locomotive in No. 401, ' 
seen here emerging from the Scranton tunnel in 
1930. The 401 was built as an experimental combi- 
nation passenger- freight locomotive by Baldwin- 
W estinghouse in 1H95, and was acquired by the 
Laurel Line in 1906. After 59 years of service, 401 
was retired in 1953, when the company converted 
to diesels. William D. Middleton. 


Wooden-bodied 5 502, built in the 
Piedmont & Northern Railway's 
Greenville (S. C.) shops, hauled 
new Buicks around 1916. This was 
one of the first interurban loco- 
motives of the four-truck, articu- 
lated-frame pattern. Piedmont & 
Northern Railway. 

Evolution of the four-truck 
wheel arrangement on P&N con- 
tinued through 1941, when Gen- 
eral Electric built the 118-ton 
No. 5611. General Electric 

Last in a long line of home-built Illinois Terminal electric motive power were five of these 16-wheeled 

Class D locomotives upgraded by Decatur shops between 1940 and 1942. They weighed 108 tons 

and were equipped with eight traction motors totaling 1800 horsepower. 


The largest of all interurban locomotives were 
three 5500-horsepower units which were 
originally destined for Soviet Russia but which 
went to work on the South Shore Line instead. 
Still very much in use in 1965, they are broth- 
ers to 12 units operated by the Milwaukee Road. 
William D. Middleton. 

A chore peculiar to trolley freight haulage 

was the necessity of tending the trolley pole 

during switching operations. This Potomac 

Edison brakeman guided the pole during a 

backup move. H. N. Proctor. 

Multiple-unit control enabled interurbans to 
assemble their freight locomotives into a 
motive power combination suitable for trains 
of varying tonnage. This "building block" 
principle, which later contributed greatly to 
the success of the diesel-electric revolution in 
steam railroading, is illustrated by this train 
about to depart from the North Shore Line's 
Pettibone Yard at North Chicago, III. 
William D. Middleton. 

Municipal ordinances governing freight op- 
eration in city streets sometimes resulted in 
oddities such as this Illinois Traction box 
motor, which was built to resemble a passenger 
car in order to satisfy St. Louis authorities. 
Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


The Bonner "rail wagon" equip- 
ment operated by the hake Shore 
Electric in 1930 employed an un- 
usual flat car with inside-bearing 
trucks which was rolled under 
three 18- foot trailers. These were 
then fixed to the car with lug 
latches. The idea had some simi- 
larity to the "Clejan" system 
adopted by some steam railroads 
in more recent years. George 
Krambles Collection. 

This unusual General Electric loco- 
motive, operated on the Hutchin- 
son & Northern in Kansas, was 
equipped with a "frameless truck." 
Axle bearings were placed in an 
extra-heavy traction motor frame, 
which was provided with lugs over 
the bearings to receive the equalizer 
bars. Fred Fellow. 


An Insull interurban, the North Shore Line, 
pioneered "piggyback" transportation of truck 
trailers in its present-day form in 1926 when it 
began hauling trailers, loaded with small freight 
shipments, on flat cars between Chicago and Mil- 
waukee. A few years later, in 1932, the North Shore 
offered what was perhaps the first modern "common 
carrier" piggyback service when it began transport- 
ing trucks on flat cars for either trucking companies 
or shippers themselves. And as early as 1930 an Ohio 
interurban, the Lake Shore Electric Railway, was 
moving trailers between Cleveland and Toledo on 
Banner "rail wagon" cars which were similar to the 
specially designed cars developed several decades 
later for steam railroad piggyback services. 

Interurban roads made early use of special freight 
containers which could be lifted from flat cars to 
truck beds, permitting "door to door" freight serv- 
ice. Many lines were thus able to extend the radius 
of their freight service far beyond the limits of their 
own lines. The Cincinnati & Lake Erie, for example, 
in addition to the overnight "store door" container 
service available between Cincinnati and Toledo on 
its own line, was able to offer shippers second- 
morning deliveries in Kentucky and Michigan cities. 

Mechanical refrigerator cars, which have only 
recently begun to replace ice-refrigerated cars on 
steam railroads, were in operation on several inter- 
urban roads during the '20's. Electrically driven re- 
frigeration equipment was used. 

In 1926 an interurban, the Northern Ohio Trac- 
tion & Light Company, even participated in a joint 
rail-air freight service. A shipment of 670 pounds 
of forgings was moved from Alliance, O., to the 
Cleveland airport in 3 hours 18 minutes by trolley 
freight and an airplane completed the journey to the 
Ford plant in Detroit in another 1 hour 45 minutes. 

Freight traffic on interurban railways grew to 
substantial proportions. In 1902 it was estimated 
that interurban companies received about 2 million 
dollars for hauling such commodities as newspapers, 
mail, milk, and express. By 1925 trolley freight 
revenues were in the vicinity of 65 million dollars 
annually, and some 15 per cent of electric railway 
gross revenues came from freight. 

Unfortunately, the light package freight and ex- 
press business that generated most of the trolley 
freight income proved just as vulnerable to the com- 
petition of the new trucking industry as the passen- 
ger business had to the automobile, and during the 
'20's it became increasingly evident that develop- 
ment of an extensive carload freight business, with 
interchange of standard steam railroad equipment, 
was required. 

A few of the lines originally ill equipped to 
handle heavy freight traffic had taken early steps to 

develop the necessary facilities. As early as 1906, 
for example, Illinois Congressman McKinley was 
building belt lines around principal cities on his 
Illinois Traction System to permit unrestricted car- 
load freight operation, and his system ultimately be- 
came a major freight railroad. But not many other 
interurbans had equal foresight, and by the time 
the need for a heavy freight traffic became apparent, 
few of them had sufficient means to undertake the 
necessary improvements. 

Many of the interurbans which had a capacity for 
carload freight operation all along, or managed to 
develop it, survived the interurban era as freight- 
only short line railroads, usually employing diesel- 
electric motive power. But for most interurbans 
freight traffic proved to be as ephemeral as passenger 
traffic, and when both vanished abandonment was 
the only recourse. 1 

Almost all of the interurbans that have survived 
as freight-only carriers have abandoned elec- 
tric equipment in favor of diesel-electric mo- 
tive power. Iowa's Fort Dodge-Des Moines 
Line still employed both forms of power when 
this 70-ton General Electric diesel worked in 
the Des Moines River valley in 1955, but the 
railway has since taken down its trolley wire. 
William D. Middleton. 


— L - 


hr M^.« 


Exit the Interurban 

77>e sun set on the interurban at Tuck Station on British 
Columbia Electric 's Steveston line. Stan F. Styles. 


Exit the Interurban 

THE INTERURBAN was, of course, "done in" by 
the automobile, a form of transportation almost as 
old as the electric cars themselves. In a manner not 
unlike that in which the interurban had largely sup- 
planted steam railroad local passenger service, the 
automobile in its turn captured the public fancy 
simply because it provided an even greater utility 
and convenience than the electric service it displaced. 

In the automobile's infancy few, even among its 
most ardent advocates, had any notion of the monster 
industry it would one day create. The early autos 
were far too costly for any but the well-to-do; they 
were extremely unreliable; and the roads were abom- 
inable in any case. Clearly, autos were no more than 
a rich man's plaything. The electric cars, on the 
other hand, were sturdy, dependable vehicles that 
had proven their worth and were headed for a gold- 
en future which held unlimited promise. Electric 
transportation, it was widely felt, would soon be- 
come almost universal. 

Occasionally, during the early days of motoring, 
the auto was even a source of extra revenue for the 
interurbans. In 1905 the general superintendent of 
the Lake Shore Electric Railway, noting the frequen- 
cy with which farmers were hauling in disabled 
automobiles from the highway which paralleled the 
railway all the way from Cleveland to Toledo, estab- 
lished an "automobile ambulance" service, which 
employed a flat car drawn by a freight locomotive 
and equipped with the necessary apparatus for haul- 
ing stranded autos aboard. The service, which cost 
$15 and up, was said to be "much less embarrassing 
than having to resort to the horse to get back to 
town." The Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company 
was collecting $5 a head in a similar manner by pro- 
viding a train of flat cars to haul motorists when 
roads became impassable along its line. Even as 
late as the '20's the Pacific Northwest Traction Com- 
pany was doing a lively business hauling trucks, 
buses, and automobiles around gaps in the uncom- 

pleted Pacific Highway north of Seattle on the elec- 
tric line's "land ferries," which consisted of flat cars 
drawn by a freight locomotive. 

As early as 1905 the Street Railway Journal took 
editorial notice of the rapidly growing number of 
automobiles, but only to discount it as a threat of 
any consequence. And even 10 years later, when 
some interurbans were beginning to feel the effects 
of automobile competition, the Journal, still not 
sure there was anything to worry about, remarked, 
"Whether this condition will be permanent or 
whether it will practically disappear, as in the case 
of the bicycle, is hard to say." 

Any lingering doubts were soon resolved. Auto- 
mobile ownership soared and the traction industry 
found itself with a competitor that could no 
longer be disregarded. The urban transit industry 
was the first to feel the severe effects of widespread 
auto ownership, but a clamor from the new motor- 
ing public set in motion a road building pro- 
gram to get rural America "out of the mud," 
and the interurbans soon found that more and more 
of their onetime passengers were driving their own 
cars over a new network of hard-surfaced roads. A 
few of the smaller lines, which had been marginal 
propositions all along, promptly folded, but general- 
ly the first effect of the new competition was to 
bring to a halt the heretofore spectacular growth of 
the interurbans. Total U. S. interurban mileage, 
which had grown steadily to a peak of about 18,100 
miles in 1917, leveled off and then began a gradual 
decline, although occasional new construction con- 
tinued for another 10 years. The last new interurban 
line, for example — Texas' Houston North Shore 
Railway — opened as late as 1927. But after 1917 
the abandonments always came faster than the new 

Interurban car construction, another indicator of 
the industry's health, gradually declined from an av- 
erage of more than a thousand cars annually during 


With the end of over 40 years of service not far away, a lonely Illinois Terminal interurban waited 
quietly in a January 1955 snowstorm at the Champaign depot. WILLIAM D. MlDDLETON. 


the years prior to 1910 to a low of 128 new cars built 
during 1919. 

If business was not quite as good as it had once 
been, most of the interurbans were still in good 
shape, and throughout the '20's the stronger systems 
that had been soundly conceived to begin with were 
able to wage a determined battle to regain their pas- 
senger traffic. Millions were spent on track and pow- 

er improvements and on line relocations to provide 
faster service. Older rolling stock was modernized, 
and as many lines installed brand-new equipment, 
interurban carbuilding enjoyed a brief resurgence, 
reaching a peak of over 500 cars annually in 1924. 
Imaginative new services were started, and freight 
traffic, which the interurbans had been giving 
increasing attention, grew to unprecedented levels. 

Dr. Thomas Conway's prescription for the success- 
ful interurban included consolidation, high-speed 
equipment, new traffic promotion ideas, and pub- 
licity. After one of his new Cincinnati & Lake 
Erie interurbans defeated an airplane in a race 
staged for newsreel cameras in 1930, a bannered car 

toured Dayton streets inviting the public to see 
films of the race at a local theater. C&LE later 
adopted such innovations as free taxi service to and 
from the depot, but the lure of the automobile was 
irresistible and the system lasted only until 1939. 
Mayfield Photos Inc. 



Despite its aged equipment, the Atlantic 
City & Shore Railroad tried to keep 
right up with the times in 1 940 by pro- 
riding its interurbans with hostesses on 
the run between Atlantic City and Ocean 
City. Ann Hackney, "the world's first 
trolley hostess," prepared to board her 
Shore Fast Line wooden car in 1 942. 
Central Studios, Atlantic City. 

A remarkable pair of Pennsylvania interurbans, Lehigh Valley 

Transit and West Penn Railways, survived into the '50's as 

typical examples of the passenger interurban of old. In 

1950, LVT's Liberty Bell Limited No. 1030, a former Indiana 

Railroad high-speed car, careened down Lehigh Mountain 

near Allentown on its way to Norristown. Abandonment 

was a year away. William D. Middleton. 

A bright orange West Penn interurban rambled across the high bridge at Brownsville. The broad-gauge 
system lasted until the mid-")0's, despite a lack of commuters and carload freight. David A. STRASSMAN. 


For a time the rejuvenation had encouraging re- 
sults. A good example of the thoroughgoing over- 
haul given many properties was that of the Cin- 
cinnati & Dayton Traction Company, which had 
been in almost continuous receivership for 10 years 
when it was reorganized in 1926 as the Cincinnati, 
Hamilton & Dayton. Headed by Dr. Thomas Con- 
way Jr., the new management refinanced and com- 
pletely rebuilt the property. Track was rebuilt 
with new rails and ties, drainage was improved, and 
the power distribution system completely rebuilt. 
New shops were erected, new passenger cars were 
placed in service, and a large fleet of freight equip- 
ment was acquired for a new fast freight and express 

The publicity-conscious Conway management in- 
troduced the newly overhauled CH&D with a gala 
celebration near Dayton on June 22, 1927. Nearly 
400 prominent citizens, public officials, and railway- 
men attended a banquet at the new car shops, then 

adjourned to a nearby natural amphitheater where 
nearly 30,000 were awaiting the public celebration. 
There was a night flying exhibition and an elaborate 
fireworks display, and a band played while seven old 
cars were burned. The climax of the occasion came 
when the lights were turned on in the new fleet of 
cars to the accompaniment of horns and gongs. 

Thus, with much fanfare, the CH&D regained its 
competitive position and was soon solidly back in 
the black. Other lines enjoyed similar comebacks 
and many electric railwaymen, for a few brief years, 
looked to the future with renewed confidence. Pre- 
dicted Britton I. Budd, president of Samuel Insull's 
North Shore and South Shore interurbans at Chi- 
cago, in 1927, "Well-located interurban lines, in- 
stead of being obsolete, are in reality entering upon 
the period of their greatest usefulness." His pre- 
diction, although it proved correct in the special case 
of his own lines, turned out to be a rather bad guess 
about the future of the interurbans. 


The first interurban came close to being the last. Portland's Oregon City line, 
opened in 1893, lasted until early 1958. Former Pacific Electric car 4018 rolled 
across a much-photographed trestle at Milwaukie, Ore., in 1955. William D. 


The Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speedrail Com- 
pany was an ill-fated attempt to modernize the 
remaining interurban routes of the old Milwaukee 
Electric system with the economies of lightweight 
cars and one-man operation. A head-on collision of 
two excursion trains in 1950, the last big wreck of 

the interurban era, brought financial difficulties 
and abandonment a year later. On a bright Decem- 
ber day in 1950 Waukesha Limited car No. 60, a 
Cincinnati curved-side lightweight that had seen 
service on three Indiana and Ohio lines, sped 
through West Junction. William D. Middleton. 


Pacific Electric transported the greatest passen- 
ger loads in its entire history during World 
War II, and continued to carry a flourishing 
rail passenger traffic into the early '50's. During 
rush hour at Amoco Tower, on the celebrated 
four-track main line of PE's Southern District, 
a Watts local on the outer track had just been 
overtaken by a fast moving Bellflower express. 
Early in 1961 the last PE interurban route — to 
Long Beach — was abandoned by its most recent 
operator, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit 
Authority. William D. Middleton. 

Smoking brake shoes and motors testified to the 
heat of a July afternoon in 1955 as a North Shore 
local, en route from Chicago to W aukegan over the 
Shore Line route, braked to a stop at North Chi- 
cago Junction, only a week before the route was 
abandoned. Once the main line, the Shore Line 
continued to operate an extensive, if unprofitable, 
commuter business to the suburbs north of Chi- 
cago following completion of the high-speed 
Skokie Valley main line in 1925. Early in 1963 
the remainder of the North Shore system was 
abandoned. William D. Middleton. 

The great depression that began with the stock 
market crash of 1929 brought the interurbans' come- 
back to an end. As business activity stagnated, in- 
terurban freight and passenger revenues declined ac- 
cordingly, and often there was too little left even 
for operating expenses, much less further improve- 
ments. For 40 major interurbans Electric Railway 
Journal reported 1930 net operating revenues that 
were down 46 per cent from the year before, while 
operating expenses decreased only slightly. Financial 
reports for 1931 were even worse. A survey of 23 

interurbans revealed that operating revenues had 
dropped as much as 60 per cent below 1930 results, 
and while 10 of the lines had reported some net in- 
come in 1930, only 6 had anything left after oper- 
ating expenses in 1931. Further drops in revenues 
as high as 40 per cent were reported in 1932. Sys- 
tem after system went under, and by 1933 interurban 
mileage had been reduced to little over 10,000 miles, 
a decline of almost 6000 miles in 10 years. New in- 
terurban car construction reached an all-time low of 
seven cars in 1932, and then disappeared altogether. 

Separate Chicago Aurora & Elgin cars from Aurora and Elgin had just been con- 
solidated into a single Chicago express at Wheaton, III., on a summer evening 
in 1955. A few years later, with insufficient freight revenues to cover com- 
muter traffic losses, the CA&E became the first of Samuel Insult's "super inter- 
urbans" to abandon service. William D. Middleton. 


' '■■■ ■ . '. /' 

1 :<h 9 i&-u 

mill HMMWiiMiit;iiiin;'!»i 

- ~- '":*• 

Even under the crushing effect of depression there 
were a few major efforts to modernize and to consoli- 
date separate lines into strong systems. In Ohio in 
1929, Dr. Conway, with his overhauled CH&D as a, 
nucleus, assembled the new Cincinnati & Lake Erie 
system stretching from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, 
bought 20 new high-speed cars, and installed im- 
proved through services. In 1930 the Insull inter- 
ests organized the statewide Indiana Railroad Sys- 
tem, bought 35 new high-speed cars, spent thousands 
on line improvements, and inaugurated vastly im- 
proved service. In 1932 the Fonda, Johnstown & 
Gloversville in New York placed new Bullet cars on 
limited schedules that cut as much as half an hour 
from previous Gloversville-Schenectady timings, and 
enjoyed a 78 per cent increase in net revenues over 
those for 1931. Such efforts were widely hailed, and 
many thought the winning combination for the in- 
terurban had at last been found. 

Still going strong in 7965, the Philadelphia Suburban 
Transportation Company was the only surviving in- 
terurban east of Chicago. A lightweight Brill subur- 
ban car, one of the last cars turned out by the once- 
great Philadelphia carbuilder, rolled through a rock 
cut at S medley Park in 1956, en route from Media 
to 69th Street terminal. William D. Middleton. 

A South Shore Line express from Gary, Incl., slid into Illinois Central's 
Randolph Street Suburban Station in Chicago in 1955. Lengthened 
and fitted with picture windows, foam rubber seats, and air condi- 
tioning, this equipment helped place the South Shore in the fore- 
front of passenger inter ur bans, but tonnage freight traffic moving 
behind heavy electric motive power had a lot more to do with the 

South Shore's continued prosperity in /965. WILLIAM D. MlDDLETON. 


One of Dr. Conway's wind-tunnel-designed Bullet cars raced through Gulph Cut 
on the third-rail "super-interurban" Philadelphia & Western line, since 1954 a 
part of the Philadelphia Suburban system. William D. Middleton. 


r t. x- 

But such measures provided only a temporary 
stay of execution. By 1932 piecemeal abandonments 
had reduced Indiana Railroad mileage from 850 to 
only 300, and the entire system was gone by 1941. 
Dr. Conway's Cincinnati & Lake Erie lasted only 
until 1939, and the high-speed cars that had shown 
such early promise on the FJ&G were returned to the 
builders in default of payments several years after 

The few interurbans that survived into the '40's 
and '50's could generally be fitted into one of two 
special categories. Some, which entered large metro- 
politan areas, found new usefulness as home-to-work 
transportation for burgeoning bedroom suburbs. All 
three of the major Insull interurbans at Chicago, for 
example, became important commuter railroads. 
Others which had become essentially electric freight 
railroads continued to operate an interurban pas- 
senger service which was by this time no more than 
a minor sideline. A few fortunate systems enjoyed 
both a substantial freight traffic and a large com- 
muter business. Los Angeles' Pacific Electric, with 

A lightweight interurban car of the Evansville & 
Ohio Valley Railway in Indiana was one of 
the first to fall to the bus. In 1928 No. 136 
posed beside its replacement on the Hender- 
son (Ky.) run. George Krambles Collection. 

both a tremendous suburban passenger business and 
enough on-line industries to make the railway Cali- 
fornia's third largest originator of freight traffic, 
was one of these. 

A few remarkable interurban systems managed 
to survive as purely passenger-carrying intercity 
railroads. Notable among them was Pennsylvania's 
Lehigh Valley Transit Company, which served the 
populous communities of the Lehigh Valley and 
had good connections for Philadelphia-bound pas- 
sengers. When the Cincinnati & Lake Erie folded in 
1939 LVT acquired the major part of C&LE's fleet 
of high-speed, lightweight cars, completely refur- 
bished them for its "Liberty Bell Route," and con- 
tinued to operate an interurban passenger service 
in the grand old manner until 1951. 


rAUlU^ ' 

A sober-faced group gathered in the main street of New Philadelphia, O., in 1929 
for the departure of the last interurban car on the Northern Ohio Power & 
Light Company. Stephen D. Maguire Collection. 


Those lines that survived the depression enjoyed 
a brief return to the bonanza traffic of an earlier 
era during the World War II years of gasoline ra- 
tioning and the great industrial activity of national 
defense. The Southern California population ex- 
plosion generated by an extraordinary defense in- 
dustry growth, for example, provided the Pacific 
Electric system with more rail passengers (a peak of 
109 million in 1945) than it had ever handled 

With the end of the war the forces which had 
been at work on the interurbans resumed. More 
autos than ever before rolled off the assembly lines, 
and continuing declines in what passenger traffic 
was left combined with growing operating costs to 
force the abandonment of the remaining marginal 

passenger operations. Low fares and excessively high 
peak hour requirements served to make commuter 
traffic less and less attractive, regardless of its vol- 
ume; and even those few systems that operated ex- 
ceedingly large suburban traffics found remaining 
solvent more and more difficult. Within less than 10 
years Pacific Electric had almost entirely converted 
its passenger operation to more economical, if less 
satisfactory, bus services, and in 1961 its last interur- 
ban route, by then part of a metropolitan transit 
authority, was discontinued. By early 1963 two 
of the three Insull interurbans at Chicago — the 
Chicago Aurora & Elgin and the North Shore Line 
— had quit entirely. Only the South Shore Line 
transported enough freight traffic to underwrite 
its passenger losses and continue operation. 

Sometimes the interurbans last run was the occasion for a celebration every bit the equal of its 

inaugural trip. This croud gathered at Thurmont, Md., one rainy day in 1954 to see the last trolley 

off on the Potomac Edison's inter urban line to Frederick. H. N. PROCTOR. 

A handsome 1903 Niles wooden interurban of classic lines, originally owned by 
the Toledo. Port Clinton & Lakeside Railway, approached Proprietors' Road on 
trackage of the Ohio Railway Museum at W'orthington. John Mallov. 


~ /W^-. j .^- Hr>sr - J» V^T 

Excursionists boarded a restored Connecticut 
Company open car in 1 959 for a ride over the 
Branford museum's line near East Haven, Conn. 
William D. Middleton. 

Traction enthusiast E. ]. Quinby, a former inter- 
urban mo tor man, took the controls of a well- 
restored open car on the Branford Electric Rail- 
way museum. William D. Middleton. 

A former Connecticut Company open car rolled through a New England wood 
on the Connecticut Electric Railway trolley museum, whose rails are laid on the 
long-abandoned roadbed of a Hartford & Springfield Street Railway branch. 
William D. Middleton. 

East of Chicago only a single system, the Philadel- 
phia Suburban Transportation Company, favored 
with unusual circumstances that helped level off the 
peak demands of its suburban passenger business, 
continued to operate. 

As the interurban, along with the urban trolley 
car, vanished from North America, its determined 
fans, who seemed to grow in numbers as the elec- 
tric cars became increasingly uncommon, com- 
menced to assemble its history in painstaking texts, 
countless photographs, maps, timetables, and other 
memorabilia. Their ultimate achievement was to 
preserve and operate the cars themselves, and the 
first such group formed for this purpose, the Sea- 
shore Electric Railway, was established at Kenne- 
bunkport, Me., in 1939. Others followed, and by 
1961 there were more museum groups operating in- 
terurban cars than there were surviving interurban 
railways. Over two dozen groups had preserved well 
over 200 pieces of electric railway equipment, and 
more than a dozen of these were actually operating 
the cars or had definite plans to do so. The Seashore 
undertaking alone, the largest of the projects, had 
preserved no less than 71 items of traction rolling 
stock of every description. 

In retrospect it is all too easy to write off the 

interurban railways as ill-conceived ventures, for 
clearly they failed to achieve the lasting position and 
universal application that was once so freely pre- 
dicted for them, and only rarely did they reap the 
promised rich financial returns that once made them 
so popular with investors. But in their time the elec- 
tric cars served well the transportation needs of a 
growing nation, and this essential contribution can 
never be overlooked. 

It is worth noting, too, that the interurban rail- 
ways were rendered obsolete not by a transportation 
development of superior technology but by one that 
provided only a greater mobility. As a mass trans- 
portation vehicle the electric railway possessed many 
of the same virtues in 1965 that it had in 1900. For 
it could still transport large numbers of people far 
more economically, and quite often more rapidly, 
than its petroleum-fueled successors. 

As America's metropolitan planners, and not a 
few of the commuting public as well, were becoming 
increasingly aware, the private automobile, with its 
insatiable demand for highway and parking space. 
was a costly and far from satisfactory way of getting 
the suburban dweller between home and work. It is 
not unreasonable to suppose, for example, that the 
Waukesha commuter who once was whisked to 


Interurban enthusiasts of the Iowa Railway Historical Museum have the 17 -mile Southern Iowa 
Railway at their disposal for excursions with the group's former Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern 
Railroad parlor-buffet-observation car. William D. MiDDLETON. 




Iowa's Charles City Western Railway, which 

couldn't bear to part with its inter urban after 

passenger service ended in 1952, refurbished car 

No. 50 with a pastel color scheme, draperies, and 

lounge furniture and offered it for charter trips 

over the freight-only line by trolley fans and 

nostalgic local residents. William D. Middleton. 

downtown Milwaukee in as little as 35 minutes by 
interurban, and who must now spend considerably 
more time making the same trip by bus or ma- 
neuvering his automobile through congested streets, 
regards the disappearance of his electric railway 
with some regret. 

Indeed, throughout the 50s there was a grow- 
ing interest again being shown in the electric rail- 
way. Toronto completed its handsome new Yonge 
Street subway, Cleveland inaugurated a brand-new 
rapid transit system, and Chicago was extending 
its subway and elevated lines into new territory. San 
Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, and many other 
cities were making serious plans for construction of 
rapid transit systems. To be sure, the new electric 
railways bore little outward resemblance to the col- 
orful interurbans of a half century before, but be- 
neath their sleek and functional modernity the very 
same principles of clean, quiet, and efficient electric 
transportation were at work. 

If the Buckeye Specials, Hoosierlands, and Comets 
that once raced importantly through the countryside 
in the glamorous days of the interurban era were 
gone forever, a new and different era of electric 
transportation was perhaps at hand. X 


Interurban and Rural Railways 

in the United States, Canada, and Mexico 

1 HIS' directory is based upon a 1922 Electric Railway Census by the Depart- 
ment of Commerce, with corrections, additions, and deletions by the author and 
others. Companies listed operated bona fide interurbans, rural trolley lines, or 
suburban electric lines with interurban characteristics. Companies which operated 
street railways only are excluded. 

Company names are normally those under which the railways were listed in 
1922. Successor companies and previous names, when they were well known, are 
shown in italics. Steam railroad control or affiliation is shoivn in parentheses. 
Companies are entered under the state in which headquarters were maintained. 

*Company still electrically operated for passenger service in 1965. 
f Company still electrically operated for freight service only in 1965. 
All companies were operated by overhead trolley exclusively except as indicated 

(1) Third-rail operation. 

(2) Third-rail and overhead-trolley operation. 

(3) Underground-conduit and overhead-trolley operation. 

(4) Gas-electric operation. 



Androscoggin & Kennebec Ry. Co., 


Lewiston, Augusta & W aterville St. 
Androscoggin Electric Co. 

Portland-Lewiston Interurban RR 
Aroostook Valley RR Co. ( CPR ) 
Atlantic Shore Ry. Co. 
Bangor Ry. & Electric Co. 
Biddeford & Saco RR, The 
Cumberland County Power & Light 


Portland RR 
Rockland, Thomaston & Camden St. 

Ry. Co., The 

Berlin St. Ry. 
Boston & Maine RR 

Concord Electric Co. 
Claremont Ry. 
Dover, Somerset & Rochester St. Ry. 

Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury St. Ry. 
Manchester & Derry St. Ry. 
Manchester & Nashua St. Ry. 
Manchester St. Ry. 
Nashua St. Ry. 
Portsmouth Electric Ry. 


Barre & Montpelier Traction & 

Power Co. 
Bellows Falls & Saxton River 

Electric RR 
Burlington Traction Co. 
Mt. Mansfield Electric RR 
Rutland Ry., Light & Power Co. 
St. Albans & Swanton Traction Co. 
Springfield Electric Ry. Co. ( B&M ) 

Springfield Terminal Ry. 

Twin State Gas & Electric Co., The 


Attleboro Branch RR Co. 

Berkshire St. Ry. Co. (NH) 

Blue Hill St. Ry. 

Boston & Worcester St. Ry. Co. 

Bristol County St. Ry. Property 

Concord, Maynard & Hudson St. Ry. 

Connecticut Valley St. Ry. Co. 
Eastern Massachusetts St. Ry. Co. 

Bay State St. Ry. Co. 
Fitchburg & Leominster St. Ry. Co. 
Grafton & Upton RR 
Holyoke St. Ry. Co. 
Interstate Consolidated St. Ry. Co. 
Lowell & Fitchburg St. Ry. Co. 
Massachusetts Northeastern St. Ry. 

Medway & Dedham St. Ry. Co. 
Middlesex & Boston St. Ry. Co. 
Milford & Uxbridge St. Ry. Co. 
Milford, Attleboro & Woonsocket St. 

Ry. Co. 
Nahant & Lynn St. Ry. Co. 
New Bedford & Onset St. Ry. Co. 
Northampton Street Ry. Co. 
Northern Massachusetts St. Ry. Co. 
Norton, Taunton & Attleboro St. Ry. 

Plymouth & Brockton St. Ry. Co. 
Plymouth & Sandwich St. Ry. Co. 
Shelburne Falls & Colerain St. Ry. Co. 
Springfield St. Ry. Co. (NH) 
Union St. Ry. Co. 
Ware & Brookfield St. Ry. Co. 
Worcester Consolidated St. Ry. Co. 



Newport & Providence Ry. Co. 
Providence & Fall River St. Ry. Co. 
Rhode Island Co., The (NH) 
United Electric Rys. Co. 


Bristol & Plainville Electric Co. 
Connecticut Co., The (NH) 
Danbury & Bethel St. Ry. Co. 
Hartford & Springfield St. Ry. Co. 
Shore Line Electric Ry. Co., The 
Waterbury & Milldale Tramway Co.. 



Albany Southern Ry. Co. (2) 
Auburn & Syracuse Electric RR Co. 
Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Co. 

Buffalo & Erie Ry. 
Chautauqua Traction Co. 
Cortland County Traction Co. 
Elmira, Corning & Waverly Ry. 

Elmira Water, Light & RR Co. 
Empire State RR Corp. 
Erie Railroad ( Mt. Morris Div.) 
Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville RR 

Geneva, Seneca Falls & Auburn RR 

Hudson Valley Ry. Co. (D&H) 
International Ry. Co. 
Ithaca-Auburn & Lansing RR 
Jamestown, Westfield & Northwest- 
ern RR Co. 
Kaydeross RR Corp. 
Keesville, Ausable Chasm & Lake 

Champlain RR ( 1 ) 
Lima-Honeoye Electric Light & RR 

New Paltz, Highland & Poughkeepsie 

Traction Co. 
New York & Stamford Ry. Co. 
New York State Rys. (2) (NYC) 

Rochester & Sodus Bay Ry. 

Rochester & Eastern Rapid Ry. 

Oneida Ry. 

Utica & Mohawk Valley Ry. 
New York, Westchester & Boston Ry. 

Co. (NH) 
Niagara Gorge RR Co., The 
Olean, Bradford & Salamanca Ry. Co. 
Orange County Traction Co. 
Paul Smith's Electric Light, Power & 

RR Co. 
Penn Yan & Lake Shore Ry. 
Putnam & Westchester Traction Co. 
Rochester & Syracuse RR Co. 

Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern RR 
Rochester, Lockport & Buffalo RR 


Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Ry. 
Schenectady Ry. Co. (D&H-NYC) 
Southern New York Power & Ry. 


Southern New York Ry. 
Syracuse & Suburban RR Co. 
Syracuse Northern Electric Ry. 
Walkill Transit Co. (Erie) 


Atlantic & Suburban Ry. Co. 
Atlantic City & Shore RR Co. (2) 
Atlantic Coast Electric Ry. Co. 
Bridgeton & Millville Traction Co. 


Burlington County Transit Co. 
Jersey Central Traction Co. 
Millville Traction Co. 
Monmouth County Electric Co. 
Morris County Traction Co., The 
North Jersey Rapid Transit Co. 
Northampton-Easton & Washington 

Traction Co. 
Public Service Ry. Co. 
Salem & Pennsgrove Traction Co. 
Trenton & Mercer County Traction 

Trenton-Princeton Traction Co. 



Allegheny Valley St. Ry. Co. 

West Penn Ry. Co. 
Allen Street Ry. Co. 
Allentown & Reading Traction Co. 
Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Ry. 

Bangor & Portland Traction Co. 
Beaver Valley Traction Co., The 
Bethlehem Transit Co. 
Blue Ridge Traction Co. 
Carlisle & Mount Holly Rys. Co. 
Centre & Clearfield Ry. Co. 
Chambersburg & Gettysburg Electric 

Ry. Co. ( PRR ) 
Chambersburg & Shippensburg Ry. 

Chambersburg, Greencastle & 

Waynesboro St. Ry. Co. 
Citizens Traction Co., The 
Cleveland & Erie Ry. Co. 
Conestoga Traction Co. 
Corry & Columbus Traction Co. 
Cumberland Ry. 
Eastern Pennsylvania Rys. Co. 
Ephrata & Lebanon Traction Co. 
Fairchance & Smithfield Traction Co. 
Hanover & McSherrystown St. Ry. 

Harrisburg Rys. Co. 
Hershey Transit Co. 
Indiana County St. Ry. Co. 
Jefferson Traction Co. 
Jersey Shore & Antes Fort RR Co. 
Johnstown & Somerset Ry. Co. 
Johnstown Traction Co. 
Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley RR 

Co. (2) 
Lancaster & Southern 
Lancaster & York Furnace St. Ry. Co. 
Lehigh Traction Co., The 
Lehigh Valley Transit Co. 
Lewisburg, Milton & Watsontown 

Passenger Ry. Co. 
Lewistown & Reedsville Electric Ry. 

Co., The 
Lykens Valley Ry. Co. 
Mauch Chunk & Lehighton Transit 

Montgomery Transit Co. 
North Branch Transit Co. 
Northampton Transit Co. 
Northern Cambria Ry. Co. 
Northwestern Electric Service Co. of 

Pennsylvania RR ( Dillsburg branch) 
Pennsylvania & Maryland St. Ry. Co. 
Pennsylvania-New Jersey Ry. Co. 
Philadelphia & Easton Transit Co. 

* Philadelphia & West Chester 

Traction Co. 

Philadelphia Suburban Transporta- 
tion Co. 
♦Philadelphia & Western Ry. Co. ( 1 ) 

Philadelphia Suburban Transporta- 
tion Co. 
Phoenixville, Valley Forge & 

Strafford Electric Ry. Co. 
Pittsburgh Ry. Co. 
Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New 

Castle Ry. Co. 
Pittsburgh, Mars & Butler Ry. Co. 
Pottstown & Reading St. Ry. 
Reading Transit & Light Co. 
Schuylkill Ry. Co. 
Scranton Ry. Co. 
Scranton, Montrose & Binghamton 

RR Co. 
Shamokin & Edgewood Electric Ry. 

Shamokin & Mount Carmel Transit 

Sharon & New Castle St. Ry. Co. 
Slate Belt Transit Co. 
Southern Cambria Ry. Co. 
Southern Pennsylvania Traction Co. 
Stroudsburg Traction Co., The 
Sunbury & Sellinsgrove Ry. Co. 
Titusville Traction Co. 
Trenton, Bristol & Philadelphia St. 

Ry. Co. 
United Traction St. Ry. Co. 
Valley Rys. 

Warren & Jamestown St. Ry. Co. 
Warren St. Ry. Co. 
Waverly, Sayre & Athens Traction 

Co. ( Erie ) 
West Chester, Kennett & Wilmington 

Electric Ry. Co. 
West Chester St. Ry. Co., The 
West Penn Ry. Co. 
Wilkes-Barre Ry. Co., The 
Wilkes-Barre & Hazleton Ry. Co., 

The (2) 
York Rys. Co. 



Wilmington & Philadelphia Traction 


Cumberland & Westernport Electric 

Ry. Co. 
Kensington Ry. Co. 
Potomac Public Service Co. 

Hagerstoun & Frederick Ry. 
United Rys. & Electric Co. of 

Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis 

Electric RR Co. (3) 

Baltimore & Annapolis RR Co. 


Washington Ry. & Electric Co. (3) 


Newport News & Hampton Ry. 

Gas & Electric Co. 
Norfolk Southern RR 
Richmond & Chesapeake Bay Ry. 

Richmond- Ashland Ry. Co. 
Richmond-Fairfield Ry. Co. 
Roanoke Ry. & Electric Co. 
Virginia Ry. & Power Co. 
Washington & Old Dominion Ry. 
Washington-Virginia Ry. (3) 

Arlington & Fairfax Ry. 

Washington, Alexandria & Ml. 
Vernon Ry. 

Appalachian Power Co. 

Tri-City Traction Co. 
Charleston Interurban RR Co. 
Kanawha Traction & Electric Co. 

Monongahela West Penn Public 
Service Co. 
Lewisburg & Ronceverte Electric Ry. 

Monongahela Power & Ry. Co. 

Monongahela West Penn Public 
Service Co. 
Ohio Valley Electric Ry. Co. 
Parkersburg & Ohio Valley Electric 

Princeton Power Co. 

Tri-City Traction Co. 
Sistersville & New Martinsville 

Traction Co. 
Tyler Traction Co. 
Wellsburg, Bethany & Washington 

Ry. Co. 
Wheeling Public Service Co. 
Wheeling Traction Co. 

Piedmont Ry. & Electric Co. 
Tidewater Power Co. 

Charleston-Isle of Palms Traction 

Columbia Ry., Gas & Electric Co. 
Piedmont & Northern Ry. Co. 


Atlanta Northern Ry. Co. 
Augusta-Aiken Ry. & Electric Corp. 
Fairburn & Atlanta Ry. & Electric 

Co. (4) 
Georgia Ry. & Power Co. 
Savannah Electric & Power Co. 





Cincinnati & Columbus Traction Co. 
Cincinnati & Dayton Traction Co., 


Ohio Electric Ry. Co. 

Cincinnati. Hamilton & Dayton Ry. 

Cincinnati & Lake Erie RR 
Cincinnati, Georgetown & 

Portsmouth RR Co., The 
Cincinnati, Lawrenceburg & Aurora 

Electric St. RR Co., The 
Cincinnati, Milford & Blanchester 

Traction Co., The 

Cincinnati St. Ry. Co. 
Cleveland, Alliance & Mahoning 

Valley RR Co. 


Cleveland & Chagrin Falls Ry. Co., 

Cleveland & Eastern Traction Co., 

Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula 

RR Co., The 
Cleveland, Painesville & Eastern RR 

Co., The 
Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus, 

Ry. Co., The 
Columbus, Delaware & Marion 

Electric Co., The 
Columbus, Magnetic Springs & 

Northern Ry. 
Columbus, Marion & Bucyrus Ry. 

Co., The 
Columbus, New Albany & Johnstown 

Traction Co., The 
Columbus, Newark & Zanesville 

Electric Ry. Co., The 

Ohio Electric Ry. 
Columbus Ry., Power & Light Co., 

Columbus, Urbana & Western 

Electric Ry., The 
Dayton & Troy Electric Ry. Co., The 
Dayton & Western Traction Co., The 

Ohio Electric Ry. Co. 

Indiana RR System 
Dayton, Covington & Piqua Traction 

Co., The 
Dayton, Springfield & Xenia 

Southern Ry. Co., The 
Felicity & Bethel RR Co. 
Fort Wayne, Van Wert & Lima 

Traction Co., The 

Ohio Electric Ry. Co. 

Fort Wayne-Lima RR Co. 
Fostoria & Fremont Ry. Co., The 
Gallipolis & Northern Traction Co. 
Hocking-Sunday Creek Traction Co., 

Indiana, Columbus & Eastern 

Traction Co., The 

Ohio Electric Ry. Co. 

Cincinnati & Lake Erie RR 
Interurban Ry. & Terminal Co. 
Lake Erie, Bowling Green & 

Napoleon Ry. 
Lake Shore Electric Ry. Co., The 
Lebanon & Franklin Traction Co. 
Lima-Toledo RR Co., The 

Ohio Electric Ry. Co. 

Cincinnati & Lake Erie RR 
Lorain St. RR Co., The 
Maumee Valley Ry. Co., The 
Northern Ohio Traction & Light Co. 
Northwestern Ohio Ry. & Power 

Co., The 
Norwalk & Shelby RR 
Ohio & Southern Traction Co., The 
Ohio Public Service Co. 
Ohio River & Columbus Ry. 
Ohio River Electric Ry. & Power Co. 
Ohio Service Co., The 
Ohio Traction Co. 
Ohio Valley Electric Ry. 
Pennsylvania & Ohio Ry. Co. 
Pennsylvania-Ohio Electric Co., The 

Mahoning & Shenango Ry. & 
Light Co. 
Portsmouth Public Service Co. 
Scioto Valley Traction Co., The ( 2 ) 
Southeastern Ohio Ry. Co., The 

Springfield & Washington Ry. Co. 
Springfield & Xenia Ry. Co., The 
Springfield Terminal Ry. & Power 

Co., The 
Springfield, Troy & Piqua Ry. Co. 
Stark Electric RR Co., The 
Steubenville, East Liverpool & 

Beaver Valley Traction Co. 
Tiffin, Fostoria & Eastern Electric 

Ry. Co., The 
Toledo & Indiana RR Co., The 
Toledo & Western RR Co., The 

Toledo, Bowling Green & Southern 

Traction Co., The 
Toledo, Fostoria & Findlay Ry. Co., 

Toledo, Ottawa Beach & Northern 

Ry. Co., The 
Wellston & Jackson Belt Ry. ( Hock- 
ing Valley ) 
Western Ohio Ry. Co., The 
Youngstown & Ohio River RR Co., 

Youngstown & Suburban Ry. Co., 

The ( Montour ) 


Beech Grove Traction Co. 

Bluffton, Geneva & Celina Traction 

* Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend 

Ry. Co. 

Chicago South Shore & South 
Bend RR 
Chicago, South Bend & Northern 

Indiana Ry. Co. 

Northern Indiana Ry.. Inc. 
Evansville & Ohio Valley Ry. Co. 
Evansville Suburban & Newburgh 

Ry. Co. 
Fort Wayne & Decatur Traction Co. 
Fort Wayne & Northwestern Ry. Co. 

Indiana RR System 
Gary & Southern Traction Co. 
Gary & Valparaiso Ry. Co. 

Gary Rys. Co. 
Gary St. Ry. Co. 

Gary Rys. Co. 
Goshen, South Bend & Chicago RR 

Indiana Service Corp. 

Indiana RR System 
Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction 


Indianapolis & Southeastern RR 
Interstate Public Service Co. 

Indiana RR System 
Lafayette St. Ry. Co. 
Lebanon-Thorntown Traction Co. 
Marion & Bluffton Traction Co. 

Indiana Service Corp. 

Indiana RR System 
Northern Indiana Power Co. 

Indiana RR System 
St. Joseph Valley Traction Co. 
Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. 
Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern 

Traction Co. 

Indiana RR 
Union Traction Co. of Indiana 

Indiana RR 
Winona Interurban Ry. Co. 


Benton Harbor-St. Joe Ry. & Light 

Detroit, Jackson & Chicago Ry. 

Detroit United Ry. 

Michigan Electric Ry. 
Detroit, Monroe & Toledo Short Line 

Detroit United Ry. 

Eastern Michigan-Toledo Ry. 
Detroit United Ry. 

Eastern Michigan Rys. 
Escanaba Power & Traction Co. 
Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & 

Muskegon Ry. Co. ( 2 ) 
Houghton County Traction Co. 
Lake Superior District Power Co. 
Michigan Ry. (2) 

Michigan RR 

Michigan United Ry. 

Michigan Electric Ry. 

Grand Rapids, Holland & Chicago 
Southern Michigan Ry. Co. 

Northern Indiana Ry., Inc. 


Alton, Granite & St. Louis Traction 


Illinois Terminal RR 
Alton, Jacksonville & Peoria Ry. Co. 
Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric 

Aurora, Plainfield & Joliet RR Co. 
Bloomington, Pontiac & Joliet 

Electric Ry. Co. 
Cairo & St. Louis Ry. Co. 
Central Illinois Traction Co. 
Chicago & Interurban Traction Co. 
Chicago & Joliet Electric Ry. Co. 
Chicago, Aurora & De Kalb RR Co. 
Chicago Aurora & Elgin Ry. Co. (2) 
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 

RR (2) 
Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria Ry. Co. 
Coal Belt Electric Ry. Co. (MP) 
De Kalb, Sycamore & Interurban 

Traction Co. 
East St. Louis & Suburban Ry. Co. 
East St. Louis, Columbia & Waterloo 

Ry. Co. 
Elgin & Belvidere Electric Co. 
Fox & Illinois Union Ry. Co. 
Galesburg & Kewanee Electric Ry. 

Galesburg Ry. Lighting & Power Co. 
Illinois Central Electric Ry., The 
Illinois Traction System 

Illinois Terminal RR 
Joliet & Eastern Traction Co. 
Kankakee & Urbana Traction Co. 
Lee County Central Electric Ry. Co. 
Murphysboro & Southern Illinois Ry. 

Peoples' Traction Co. 
Peoria Ry. Terminal Co. (CRI&P) 
Rock Island Southern RR Co. 
Rock Island Southern Ry. Co. 
Rockford & Interurban Ry. Co. 
St. Louis & Belleville Electric Ry. Co. 
Southern Illinois Ry. & Power Co. 
Springfield, Clear Lake & Rochester 

Interurban Ry. 
Sterling, Dixon & Eastern Electric 

Ry. Co. 


Woodstock & Sycamore Traction Co. 



Chicago, Harvard & Geneva Lake Ry. 

Eastern Wisconsin Electric Co. 
Milwaukee Electric Ry. & Light Co., 


Milwaukee Rapid Transit & Speed- 
rail Co. 
Milwaukee Northern Ry. Co. 

Milwaukee Electric Ry. & Light 
Co.. The 
Wisconsin-Minnesota Electric Light & 

Power Co. 
Wisconsin Power & Light Co. 
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. 
Wisconsin Traction, Light, Heat & 

Power Co. 
Wisconsin Valley Electric Co. 


Electric Short Line Ry. (4) 

Mesaba Ry. Co. 

Minneapolis, Anoka & Cuyuna Range 

Ry. Co. 
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester & 

Dubuque Electric Traction Co. 
Minnesota Northwestern Electric Ry. 

Co. (4) 
St. Paul Southern Electric Ry. 

Twin City Rapid Transit Co. 


Albia Light & Ry. Co. 

Cedar Rapids & Marion City Ry. Co. 

tCharles City Western Ry. Co. 

Clinton, Davenport & Muscatine Ry. 

Des Moines & Central Iowa RR 
Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern 

RR Co. 
Iowa Ry. & Light Co. 

Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Ry. Co. 
+Iowa Southern Utilities Co. 

Southern Iowa Ry. Co. 
Keokuk Electric Co. 
tMason City & Clear Lake RR Co. 
Oskaloosa Traction & Light Co. 
Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern 

Ry. Co. 


Jefferson City Bridge & Transit Co. 

Kansas City, Clay County & St. 

Joseph Ry. Co. 
Kansas City Power & Light Co. 
Mexico, Santa Fe & Perry Traction 

Missouri Electric RR Co. 
St. Francois County RR Co. 
St. Joseph & Savannah Interurban 

Southwest Missouri RR Co., The 
Union Depot Bridge & Terminal RR 

United Rys. Co. of St. Louis 


Valley City St. & Interurban Ry. Co. 


Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR 
( 3-foot-gauge interurban at Dead- 
wood, Lead, and Pluma) 


Omaha & Lincoln Ry. & Light Co. 
Omaha & Southern Interurban Ry. 

Omaha, Lincoln & Beatrice Ry. Co. 


Arkansas Valley Interurban Ry. Co. 
Iola Electric Ry. 
Joplin & Pittsburg Ry. Co. 
Junction City & Fort Riley Ry. 
Kansas City, Kaw Valley & Western 

Ry. Co., The 
Kansas City, Lawrence & Topeka 

Electric RR Co. 
Kansas City, Leavenworth & Western 

Ry. Co. 
Manhattan City & Interurban Ry. Co. 
Missouri & Kansas Ry. Co. 
Southwestern Interurban Ry. Co. 
Union Traction Co., The 

Union Electric Ry. 



Kentucky Traction & Terminal Co. 
Louisville & Interurban RR Co. 

Bristol Traction Co. 
Chattanooga Traction Co. 
Memphis & Lake View Ry. Co. 
Nashville Interurban Ry. 

Nashville-Franklin Ry. 
Union Traction Co. of Tennessee 

Nashtille-Gallatin Interurban Ry. 


Alabama Power Co. 

Birmingham Ry., Light & Power Co. 

Mobile Light & RR Co. 


Gulfport & Mississippi Coast Traction 

Laurel Light & Ry. Co. 


Central Power & Light Co. 
Fort Smith Light & Traction Co. 
West Helena Consolidated Co., The 
Interurban Traction Co. 


Orleans-Kenner Traction Co. 
St. Tammany Ry. & Power Co. 
Southwestern Traction & Power Co. 

Ardmori- Ry. 

Bartlesville Interurban Ry. 
Chickasha St. Ry. Co. 
Muskogee Electric Traction Co. 
Northeast Oklahoma RR Co. 
Oklahoma Ry. Co. 
Oklahoma Union Ry. Co. 

lulsa-Sapulpa Union Ry. Co. 

Pittsburg County Ry. Co. 
Sand Springs Ry. 
Sapulpa & Interurban Ry. 
Shawnee-Tecumseh Traction Co. 


Brownsville St. & Interurban RR Co. 

Bryan & College Interurban RR Co. 

Eastern Texas Electric Co. 

Galveston-Houston Electric Ry. Co. 

Greenville Ry. & Light Co. 

Houston North Shore Ry. (MP) 

Northern Texas Traction Co. 

Rio Grande Valley Traction Co. 

Roby & Northern RR Co. 

Southwestern Traction Co. 

Tarrant County Traction Co. 

Texas Electric Ry. 

Texas Interurban Ry. 

Uvalde & Leona Valley Interurban 

Wichita Falls Traction Co. 



Anaconda Copper Mining Co. 

Gallatin Valley Electric Ry. (MILW) 


Boise Valley Traction Co. 
Caldwell Traction Co. 
Sandpoint & Interurban Ry. 


Sheridan Ry. & Light Co. 


Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek 

District Ry. Co. (C&S) 
Colorado Springs & Interurban Ry. 

Co.. The 
Denver & Intermountain RR Co., The 
Denver & Interurban RR Co. (C&S) 
Denver & South Platte Ry. Co., The 
Grand River Valley Ry. Co., The 

(Colorado Midland) 
Trinidad Electric Transmission Ry. & 

Gas Co., The 




Bamberger Electric RR Co. 

Emigration Canyon Ry. Co. 

Salt Lake & Utah RR Co. 

Salt Lake, Garfield & Western Ry. Co. 

Utah Idaho Central RR Co. 

Utah Light & Traction Co. 


Douglas St. Ry. 

Phoenix Ry. Co. of Arizona 

Warren Co. 

II arren-Bisbee Ry. 





Grays Harbor Ry. & Light Co. 


Inland Empire RR Co. 

Spokane, Coeur d'Alene & Palotue 
Ry. (GS) 
Lew iston-CIarkson Transit Co. 
North Coast Power Co. 
Olympia Light & Power Co. 
Pacific Northwest Traction Co. 
Pacific Traction Co. 
Puget Sound Electric Ry. ( 2 ) 
Puget Sound International Ry. & 

Power Co. 
Seattle & Rainier Valley Ry. Co. 
Seattle Municipal St. Ry. 
Spokane & Eastern Ry. & Power Co. 

Spokane, Coeur d'Alene & Palouse 
Ry. <GN) 
Tacoma Ry. & Power Co. 
Twin City Ry. 
Vancouver Traction Co. 
Walla Walla Valley Ry. Co. (NP) 
Washington Water Power Co. 
Willapa Electric Co. 
TYakima Valley Transportation Co. 



Oregon Electric Ry. Co. (SP&S) 
Portland Ry. Light & Power Co. 
Southern Oregon Traction Co. 
Southern Pacific Co. 

Portland, Eugene & Eastern Ry. 
United Rys. Co. (SP&S) 
Willamette Valley Southern Ry. Co. 


Central California Traction Co. (2) 

Fresno Traction Co. 
Glendale & Montrose Ry. (UP) 
Market St. Ry. 

Northwestern Pacific RR (1) (SP) 
Pacific Coast Ry. Co. 
Pacific Electric Ry. Co. ( SP ) 
Peninsular Ry. Co. (SP) 
Petaluma & Santa Rosa RR Co. 

tSacramento Northern RR ( 2 ) ( WP ) 
San Diego Electric Ry. Co. 

San Diego Southern Ry. Co. 

San Francisco, Napa & Calistoga Ry. 

San Francisco-Oakland Terminal Rys. 


Key System 
San Francisco-Sacramento RR Co. 

Sacramento Northern RR (WP) 
Southern Pacific Co. 

lnterurban Electric Ry. 
Tidewater Southern Ry. (WP) 
Visalia Electric RR Co. (SP) 





Cape Breton Tramways 
Pictou County Ry. 




Hull Electric Co. (CPR) 
Montreal & Southern Counties Ry. 

Montreal Tramways 
Quebec Ry., Light & Power Co. 



Brantford & Hamilton Electric Ry. 

Brantford Municipal Ry. 

Chatham, Wallaceburg & Lake Erie 

Grand River Ry. (CPR) 

Grand Valley Ry. 

Hamilton & Dundas St. Ry. 

Hamilton, Grimsby & Beamsville 
Electric Ry. 

Hamilton Radial Electric Ry. 

Lake Erie & Northern Ry. (CPR) 

London & Lake Erie Ry. & Trans- 
portation Co. 

tLondon & Port Stanley Ry. 

Mt. McKay & Kakabeka Falls Ry. 
Niagara Falls Park & River Ry. 
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto 

Ry. (CNR) 
Nipissing Central Ry. 
Sandwich, Windsor & Amherstburg 

Electric Ry. 
Schomsburg & Aurora Ry. 
Sudbury-Copper Cliff Suburban Ry. 
Toronto & York Radial Rys. 
Toronto Suburban Ry. (CNR) 
Windsor, Essex & Lake Shore Rapid 

Woodstock, Thames Valley & 

Ingersoll Ry. 

Winnipeg Electric Co. 
Winnipeg, Selkirk & Lake Winnipeg 




Calgary Municipal Ry. 


tBritish Columbia Electric Ry. 


F.C. Electrico de Lerdo a Torreon 
F.C. Electrico de Tampico a la Barra 
F.C. Mexicano, Tejeria-Jalapa branch 

(mule power) 
*Servicio de Transportes Electricos, 

Mexico City 


*F.C. Cubano de Hershey 


Caguas Tramway Co. 

Principal lnterurban Carbuilders 

Indiana Railroad's notable high- 
speed, lightweight car fleet of 1931- 

JTOR a more detailed discussion of carbuilders the reader is referred to "Rail- 
way Car Builders of the United States & Canada,'' written by E. Harper Charlton 
and published by Interurbans, from which this summary is drawn with the kind 
permission of the author and publisher. 

American Car Company, St. Louis, 
Mo., 1891-1931. 

A leading street and interurban car- 
builder, American was acquired by 
J. G. Brill in 1902 as a strategically- 
located plant for Brill's western or- 
ders. Cars were built there under the 
American label until the plant's re- 
organization as J. G. Brill of Missouri 
in 1931, only a scant four months 
before the works closed its doors 
for good. 

American Car & Foundry Company, 

Formed by the merger of 1 3 older 
firms, ACF is still a leading railroad 
carbuilder. Much of ACF's interur- 
ban car construction was centered at 
its Jeffersonville ( Ind. ) plant, which 
included among its output many of 
the handsome heavy steel coaches, 
diners, parlor cars, and sleepers that 
graced Ohio and Indiana traction 
during the '20s, and a portion of the 

Barney & Smith Car Company, Day- 
ton, O., 1849-1923. 

A general railway carbuilder, 
Barney & Smith built interurbans for 
many Midwest and other systems. The 
plant made the transition to steel car- 
building in 1913, and closed only 10 
years later. 

J. G. Brill Company, Philadelphia, 

Pa., 1868-1956. 

Without question Brill was the 
leader in street and interurban car 
construction throughout the age of 
electric traction. Formed by John 
George Brill and his son G. Martin 
Brill, the firm pioneered many im- 
portant advances in electric railway 


cars and their equipment. In 1899 
the company laid plans to consolidate 
its own activities with several other 
firms' into the Consolidated Street 
Car Company, which would have ab- 
sorbed 90 per cent of the electric 
carbuilders in the U. S. These plans 
were later abandoned, but between 
1902 and 1908 Brill acquired the 
American Car Company at St. Louis; 
G. C. Kuhlman Car Company at 
Cleveland; John Stephenson Car 
Company at Elizabeth, N. J.; Wason 
Manufacturing Company at Spring- 
field, Mass.; and Danville Car Com- 
pany at Danville, 111., giving the com- 
pany strategically located plants in 
most parts of the U. S. In 1912 Com- 
pagnie J. G. Brill was formed with a 
plant at Paris, France, which pro- 
duced cars and trucks for electric 
lines throughout the Eastern Hemis- 
phere. Brill cars were, in fact, to be 
found throughout the world. 

Every conceivable type of car was 
built by Brill. Among a few of the 
most notable Brill designs were the 
patented Brill semi-convertible car, 
which was widely used throughout 
the U. S.; the heavy steel high-speed 
articulated cars built in 1926 for the 
Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis; 
and the lightweight, high-speed Bul- 
let cars developed in 1930. Brill had 
patents covering virtually every com- 
ponent of car construction, from 
trucks to trolley wheels, and the firm 
pioneered "package" selling and as- 
sembly line production. 

Brill declined along with the 
electric railways it supplied, and the 
last car came out of the Philadelphia 
plant in 1941, after which the firm 
turned its attention to buses and 
other products. 

Canadian Car & Foundry Company, 
Limited, Montreal, Que., 1909- 
A general railway carbuilder ever 
since its organization, Canadian Car 
was a leading builder of electric rail- 
way cars in Canada, and large vol- 
umes of street and interurban cars 
were built from 1909 until the last 
one rolled out of the plant in 1946. 
Now Canadian Car Company, Ltd., 
the plant still produces railroad 

Cincinnati Car Company, Cincinnati, 
O., 1902-1931. 

A subsidiary of the Cincinnati 
Street Railway, Cincinnati Car had its 
origin in Chester Park shops which 
built cars and trucks for the parent 
firm for its own use. Other Ohio com- 
panies asked to have cars built for 
them, and as the demand increased 
the separate carbuilding firm was 

Cincinnati cars were seen largely 
on systems in the Midwest and South- 
east. Virtually every type of car, both 
wood and steel, was built during the 

firm's 30 years in business, but the 
most notable among them were the 
famous curved-side lightweight cars 
built during the 1920's, and the fleet 
of lightweight, high-speed cars built 
in 1930 for the Cincinnati & Lake 
Erie Railroad. The latter represented 
virtually the last cars built by the 
firm, for only a year later Cincinnati 
completed its final order. 

Columbia Car & Tool Works, Port- 
land, Ore. 

Columbia built only a modest num- 
ber of cars for electric lines in the 
Northwest but is deserving of men- 
tion by virtue of having built the first 
cars, in 1892, for the Portland-Oregon 
City East Side Railway, generally re- 
garded as the first interurban. 

Danville Car Company, Danville, III., 
circa 1900-1913. 

Danville, a short-lived firm, built a 
considerable number of street and in- 
terurban cars for Midwest and West- 
ern systems. The plant was acquired 
by J. G. Brill in 1908 but went out of 
business only five years later when 
the traction industry began the transi- 
tion to steel equipment. 

Harlan & Hollingsworth, Wilmington, 
Del., 1836-1905. 

Established in 1836, Harlan & Hol- 
lingsworth was one of the oldest rail- 
way carbuilders. Purchased by Beth- 
lehem Steel in 1905, the car works 
continued in operation until 1944. 
Among the most interesting interur- 
ban cars produced by the plant were 
the "Holland" sleeping cars built in 
1903, which converted from a parlor 
car by day to a sleeper by night, and 
the unusual articulated units con- 
structed by Bethlehem in 1935 for the 
Key System's Bay Bridge service be- 
tween San Francisco and the East Bay 

Jewett Car Company, Newark, O 

Jewett was one of several builders 
that produced in large numbers the 
handsomely proportioned "classic" 
cars that typified the wood car era on 
the Midwestern interurbans. Jewett 
changed over to steel construction 
and turned out a few groups of distin- 
guished all-steel cars before it went 
into receivership and out of business 
in 1918. 

Jones' Sons Car Company, Water- 
vliet, N. Y., 1839-1922. 

An early entrant in the electric car- 
building industry, the Jones firm be- 
gan building street railway cars in 
1864 and as early as 1886 was said to 
be building 300 streetcars a year. 
Jones cars went to many countries, 
but most of them were to be found 
on the streetcar and rural trolley lines 

of New England and the East. Pro- 
duction of cars ended in 1912. 

G. C. Kuhlman Car Company, Cleve- 
land, O., 1892-1932. 

Kuhlman built an extensive variety 
of street and interurban cars, includ- 
ing wood cars of classic pattern, 
heavy steel cars, and a considerable 
number of lightweights during the 
1920s. J. G. Brill absorbed the Kuhl- 
man firm in 1904, as part of its pro- 
gram to acquire plants at strategic lo- 
cations. Production continued under 
the Kuhlman name until 1931, when 
the plant was reorganized as J. G. 
Brill of Ohio. Only a year later car- 
building ceased for good. 

Laconia Car Company, Laconia, 
N. H., 1881-1928. 

Cars by Laconia, one of the lead- 
ing builders in New England, were 
found everywhere in the Northeast, 
and frequently in other parts of the 
U. S. as well. The company was also 
an important builder of steam road 
equipment. Along with a majority of 
the traction carbuilders, Laconia went 
out of business with the decline of 
the electric railway industry in the 
late 1920s. 

McGuire-Cummings Manufacturing 
Company, Chicago and Paris, III., 

Entering the electric railway field 
as a car truck builder in 1888, 
McGuire-Cummings was known as the 
McGuire Manufacturing Co. Later 
the company began building spe- 
cialized equipment, and finally be- 
came a major producer of all types 
of electric railway equipment, as well 
as a considerable amount of steam 
railway rolling stock. A great volume 
of wood and steel interurbans bore 
the McGuire-Cummings label. Prob- 
ably the most distinguished among 
them were the three steel parlor-buf- 
fet-observation cars built for limited 
service on the Waterloo, Cedar 
Falls & Northern Railroad in 1915. 
The company later became the Cum- 
mings Car & Coach Company, and 
built its last car in 1930. 

Niles Car & Manufacturing Com- 
pany, Niles, O , 1901-1917. 
Although it built a few steel cars 
in its last years, the Niles firm was 
noted principally for the handsome 
wood cars it turned out during the 
peak years of interurban carbuilding. 
Niles called its cars "The Electric 
Pullmans," and among them were 
perhaps the largest wood interurbans 
ever constructed. Built for the Wash- 
ington, Baltimore & Annapolis in 
1907, these 62-foot cars weighed 44 


Osgood Bradley Car Company, 
Worcester, Mass., 1833-1930. 
A producer of railway cars since 
1833. the Osgood Bradley plant, 
which operated until 1960 as part 
of Pullman-Standard, was the oldest 
carbuilding plant in the United 
States. Its 127 years of production in- 
cluded virtually every type of steam 
and electric railroad car. Osgood 
Bradley was associated with the 
Standard Steel Car Company after 
1910, and became part of Pullman- 
Standard in 1930. P-S rapid-transit 
car production was concentrated at 
the Osgood Bradley plant until its 
closing in I960. 

Ottawa Car Manufacturing Com- 
pany, Ottawa, Ont., 1891-1947. 
One of the leading Canadian car- 
builders, Ottawa built large numbers 
of street and interurban cars that op- 
erated in all parts of the Dominion. 
The plant closed in 1947, after build- 
ing a final order of streetcars for the 
Ottawa Electric Railway. 

Pressed Steel Car Company, Pitts- 
burgh, Pa., 1896-1954. 
A pioneer steel carbuilder from 
the time of its organization, Pressed 
Steel was exclusively a freight car- 
builder until 1906, when it built some 
of the first steel passenger cars. The 
firm, principally a steam road car- 
builder, also manufactured street and 
, interurban cars, among them some of 
the earliest all-steel designs. Out- 
standing among its interurbans were 
24 all-steel cars built in 1915 for high- 
speed service over Pacific Electrics 
premiere San Bernardino line. The 
legendary super-salesman "Diamond 
Jim" Brady was associated with 
Pressed Steel Car until 1902, when 
he walked out to join in forming the 
rival Standard Steel Car Company. 

Preston Car & Coach Company, Pres- 
ton, Ont., 1908-1921. 

Another of the principal Canadian 
builders, Preston built electric rail- 
way cars, as well as occasional steam 
road equipment. In 1921, when the 
Toronto Transportation Commission 
restricted bidding on new cars to Ca- 
nadian firms, J. G. Brill leased Pres- 
ton Car & Coach and set up Canadian 
Brill Company, Ltd., which lasted 
hardly long enough to complete the 
50-car Toronto order it obtained. 

Pullman-Standard Car Manufactur- 
ing Company, 1867- 
One of the leaders in American car- 
building, the Pullman organization 
began its carbuilding activities in 
1867, when George Pullman founded 
Pullman's Palace Car Company. Vari- 
ous corporate changes have taken 
place in the intervening years but the 
name "Pullman" has been synony- 
mous with sleeping cars and carbuild- 
ing ever since. Pullman entered the 
electric car field in 1891 and has con- 
tinued in the business to the present 
time, building everything from 4- 
wheel streetcars to heavy M.U. coach- 
es for steam road electrifications. 
Among distinguished Pullman inter- 
urbans have been some of Pacific 
Electric's finest steel interurbans, cars 
for Southern Pacific's Oregon electri- 
fication, high-speed steel equipment 
for the Insull interurbans at Chicago, 
and a portion of Indiana Railroad's 
1931 fleet of high-speed aluminum 

St. Louis Car Company, St. Louis, 

Mo., 1887- 

Exceeded only by Brill in volume, 
St. Louis Car was one of the greatest 
of the electric carbuilders, and it en- 
joys the distinction of being the only 
one of the firms once devoted largely 
to carbuilding for the electric railway 
industry that still remains in busi- 
ness. In I960 the company was pur- 
chased by General Steel Castings Cor- 
poration. St. Louis has built electric 
equipment of every description, and 
a considerable amount of steam rail- 
road rolling stock also, including 
carbodies for many of Electro-Mo- 
tive's early gas-electric cars and sev- 
eral of its first diesel-electrics. Like 
Brill, St. Louis designed and built 
trucks and virtually every other ma- 
jor car component, as well as cars 
themselves. The noteworthy interur- 
bans produced by St. Louis are almost 
too numerous to mention. Among the 
most recent were the two extraordi- 
nary 85-mile-per-hour streamlined 
Electroliner trains built for the Chi- 
cago North Shore & Milwaukee in 
1941, and the three post-World War 
II electric streamliners for the Illinois 
Terminal Railroad, which were the 
very last interurbans built. Today 
St. Louis is turning out rapid trans- 
it cars and equipment for steam rail- 

Southern Car Company, High Point, 
N. C, 1904-1917. 

In business only 13 years, South- 
ern Car was nonetheless an important 
builder, and its street and interurban 
cars were found throughout the 
South, and at points as far away 
as New York and Puerto Rico. When 
Southern went out of business a new 
firm, the Perley A. Thomas Car 
Works, was established, which took 
over the plant and continued build- 
ing streetcars until 1930. 

John Stephenson Car Company, Eliz- 
abeth, N. J., 1831-1917. 

Stephenson was one of the first 
U. S. railroad carbuilders. Originally 
located in New York, the firm built 
most of the city's first street railroad 
rolling stock. In the 15 years from 
1876 to 1891 alone, Stephenson built 
25,000 horse, cable, and electric cars. 
During the boom years of interurban 
construction many lines were 
equipped with handsome wood cars 
turned out by the Stephenson plant, 
including some of the earliest cars 
capable of really high speeds. In 
1903, for example, a Stephenson car 
covered 35 miles on the new third- 
rail Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Rail- 
way in 34 minutes 39 seconds, in- 
cluding speed restrictions and stops. 

The Stephenson plant was acquired 
by J. G. Brill in 1904, but production 
continued under the Stephenson 
name. The plant never tooled up for 
steel carbuilding, and closed in 1917. 

Wason Manufacturing Company, 
Springfield, Mass., 1845-1931. 

Wason was another of the car- 
builders acquired by J. G. Brill in its 
expansion program shortly after the 
turn of" the century. Wason electric 
cars were built in large numbers for 
lines in New England and other 
areas, and it was also a steam road 
carbuilder. Trucks and bodies for 
General Electric's line of gas-electric 
cars were almost always turned out 
by the Wason plant. The Wason 
name continued in use after the 1906 
Brill purchase until 1931 when the 
plant, in common with the other re- 
maining Brill subsidiaries, lost its 
identity and became J. G. Brill of 
Massachusetts. Within a year, also in 
common with the other Brill subsidi- 
ary plants, Wason went out of the 
carbuilding business for good, i 


Principal Types of Interurban Rolling Stock, 
Important Components, and Accessories 


CLOSED Car: The ordinary closed 
car, comparable in general arrange- 
ment to steam railroad coaches, with 
doors and enclosed vestibules at each 
end, was by far the most common 
type of interurban passenger car. 

Combine Car: With the provision 
of a compartment for mail, express, 
and baggage at one end of the car, a 
single unit enabled interurban op- 
erators to provide varied services. 

Center-Entrance Car: With 
doors and steps at or near the center 
of the body, the center-entrance car 
usually had side plates that sloped 
down to the bottom of the steps, giv- 
ing what was described as a "possum- 
belly" or "sow belly" appearance. 

OPEN Car: The most common 
variety of this summer car had trans- 
verse benches across the full width of 
the car, with longitudinal steps the 
full length of the car to permit board- 
ing or alighting at any point. 

Combination or "Semi-Open" 
Car: Divided between open and 
closed sections, this arrangement was 
popular in California, where weather 
changes were often sudden. 

California Car: This variation, 
the original type of "semi-open" car, 
placed the closed section at the center. 

Convertible Car: Equipped with 
removable side panels and windows, 
the "full convertible," which enjoyed 
only modest popularity, was an 
attempt to develop an open car suit- 
able for year-around operation. 

Semi-Convertible Car: Window 
sash which could be removed, or 
which disappeared into wall or roof 

pockets, made the semi-convertible a 
practical car for both winter and sum- 
mer operation, and it was built in 
great numbers for interurban lines in 
all parts of the U. S. 

motor was used for express or light 
freight service. 

B-B Steeple-Cab Locomotive: 
This locomotive, the most widely 
used locomotive type for interurban 
freight service, had a center cab of 
variable length, with sloping hoods 
at each end that housed a part of 
its air, electrical, and other equip- 
ment. These machines were usually 
equipped for multiple-unit operation, 
and ranged in size from very light 
units to ones weighing as much as 100 
tons. Standardized lines of steeple- 
cabs were produced by such builders 
as GE and Baldwin-Westinghouse. 



S ■ Bj II II 11 11 

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Articulated Car: Articulation, 
with two carbodies resting on a com- 
mon truck, made possible a high- 
capacity unit which could still nego- 

B-B Box-Cab Locomotive: Oth- 
erwise identical to the steeple-cab de- 
sign, the box-cab locomotive had all 
of its equipment installed in a full- 
length cab. The arrangement was 
simplicity itself, but the design was 
never as popular as the steeple-cab, 
principally because visibility was not 
as good in switching operations. 


tiate the restrictive curvature common 
to most interurbans. Another type of 
articulated car, consisting of a short 
carbody suspended between two 
single-truck cars and often described 
as "two rooms and a bath," was used 
on a few street railways. 


Box or Express Motor: Essential- 
ly a motorized baggage car, with con- 
trols at one or both ends, the box 

B-B + B-B Articulated Locomo- 
tive: Several interurban lines with 
extremely heavy freight traffic built 
powerful locomotives of this ar- 
rangement, which employed four 
power trucks under a pair of artic- 
ulated frames to operate through 
short radius electric line curves. 


Overhead Systems: A trolley 
pole, which was held against the wire 







by the tension of springs mounted in 
a swiveling trolley base, was the usual 
means of current collection for over- 
head systems. Originally the use of a 
large trolley wheel, 6 inches or more 
in diameter and cast from a variety 
of compositions, was favored for cur- 
rent collection. A trolley "harp" held 
the wheel and provided a positive 
means of electrical contact. In later 
years sliding shoes were developed 
which seemed to work better, and 
they were eventually substituted for 
wheels on most lines. In case of de- 
wirement the flailing trolley pole 
often caused damage to the overhead 
construction, and some lines used 
various types of retrievers, which 
automatically pulled the pole down 
when the shoe or wheel became dis- 
engaged from the wire. 


The amount of current that could 
be successfully drawn by a single trol- 
ley wheel or shoe was limited, and 
for heavy-duty lines on which large 
currents were required the panto- 

graph system was preferred. The pan- 
tograph, employing one or two flat 
collectors which slid along the wire, 
was raised and held against the wire 
by springs and was lowered by air 

The use of "pole bow" trolleys, 
which combined some of the features 
of an ordinary pole trolley and a pan- 
tograph, although common in Europe, 
was rare in North America. Either a 
flat collector or a roller was held 
against the wire by spring tension. 
Only one line, the Indianapolis & 
Cincinnati Traction Company, used 
this system for an extended period. 

Third-Rail Systems: Current 
collection from third-rail systems was 
usually by means of a truck-mounted 
iron collection shoe, which was held 
against the top of the power rail by 
its own weight. In protected third- 
rail installations, where the power 
rail was usually inverted, an "under- 
running" shoe, held in place by 
spring tension, was used. 

Underground Conduit Systems: 
Sliding shoes on a truck-mounted 
"plow," which projected through the 
slot between the rails, collected cur- 
rent from the underground power 
rail. Two shoes were usually neces- 
sary, since most conduit systems had 
a separate return rail. 


The double-truck car was virtually 
universal in interurban operation, 
and truck design largely followed the 
pattern of steam railroad passenger 
car practice. The typical interurban 
truck was a four-wheel design of the 
M.C.B. (Master Car Builders) type, 
with the car weight carried to the 
truck frame by a transverse bolster 
beam supported by leaf springs, and 
the load in turn carried to the axles 
through coil springs and equalizer 
bars. Trucks were usually built up 
from steel shapes and forged sections, 
although some builders used pressed 
steel assemblies, and in later years 
a few cars were built with cast steel 
trucks. Several of the major car- 
builders, such as St. Louis and Brill. 




built trucks of their own design, 
which were often applied under the 
cars of other builders as well as their 
own; the Baldwin Locomotive Works 
and the American Locomotive Com- 
pany both built widely used motor 
trucks; and a number of independent 
truck builders, prominent among 
them Peckham, Standard, McGuire, 
and Taylor, also built extensively 
used designs. 

The wheelbase of interurban trucks 
usually varied between 6 and 7 feet. 
A longer \vheelbase provided a 
smoother ride in high-speed opera- 
tion, but the necessity for operation 
around sharp curves set a limit on the 
practical maximum wheelbase. Iron 
wheels and axles were often used on 
the earlier cars but steel soon became 
standard for this purpose. A wheel 
around 36 inches in diameter was 
ordinarily employed, although some 
roads used wheels as large as 39 
inches for high-speed operation. 
Wheel flanges were usually smaller 
than M.C.B. standards because of the 
restricted flanges and specialwork 
prevalent on the street railways used 
for city entrances. The smaller flanges 
were more prone to chipping or 
breaking, and provided a smaller 
margin of safety against derailment 
at high speed. Because of the limita- 



tions of trolley curvature, the six- 
wheel "Pullman" type of passenger 
car truck was impractical for inter- 
urban service, and only a few cars 
were ever attempted with this tvpe. 

One of the most radical departures 
in interurban truck design was the 
modified arch bar cantilever (A.B.C.) 
truck developed in 1923 by the Cin- 
cinnati Car Company for use on its 
lightweight interurbans and street- 
cars. The equalizer bar of conven- 
tional practice was eliminated and 
the load was carried directly from the 
truck frame to the axles through coil 
springs. Various types of "snubbers" 
were used which counteracted the 
tendency of coil spring suspension to 
set up a dangerous rhythmic undu- 
lation (in some Cincinnati experi- 
ments test cars actually left the rails 
from this cause). Further refined in 
subsequent years, the Cincinnati 
A.B.C. truck was extremely success- 
ful in providing a smooth ride at 
high speeds. Much smaller and light- 
er than the usual M.C.B. trucks, the 
A.B.C. used wheels only 28 inches in 
diameter, and required the develop- 
ment of very compact motors. 

Many early interurban cars em- 
ployed only two motors, placing 
one on each truck or both on a 
single truck, but the requirement for 



ample power to drive heavy cars at 
high speed soon made the four-motor 
car the most common type. Motors 
were either "inside" or "outside" 
hung, depending upon whether they 
were placed between or outside the 
axles, and were connected to the axles 
by gear drives. The inside-hung ar- 
rangement, which was almost univer- 
sal on trucks designed for interurban 
service, required a longer wheelbase, 
which was needed for smooth opera- 
tion at speed anyway. Motors nor- 
mally varied from about 75 to 100 
horsepower in large interurban car 
applications, but on occasion motors 
developing as much as 200 horse- 
power each were used for exception- 
ally large and fast cars. 


Conventional air brake systems 
were almost always used by inter- 

urban roads. At first, when single 
car operation was common, "straight 
air" systems, in which air was admit- 
ted to or exhausted from the brake 
cylinder directly by the motorman's 
valve, were used. Train operation re- 
quired the use of "automatic" brake 
systems, with the brake cylinders 
directly controlled by a "triple valve" 
in each car, which in turn was con- 
trolled by varying the pressure in the 
brake pipe with the motorman's 
valve. An electric motor-driven com- 
pressor under each car provided the 
necessary air supply. 

At least one interurban system, the 
West Penn Railways, made wide use 
of cars which had no air brakes at all, 
but used instead a magnetic track 
brake. This consisted of an electro- 
magnetic brake shoe suspended be- 
tween the wheels from springs 
mounted on the truck frame. To 
apply brakes the electromagnet was 
energized, which drew the brake shoe 
down against the rail. When air 
braking systems alone were found in- 
adequate for the extremely high- 
speed cars developed by several lines 
in 1929-1930, they were supple- 
mented by magnetic track brakes. 

To control the flow of current to 
the traction motors on the earliest 
interurban cars, a "direct controller" 
was used, which passed the entire cur- 
rent through the motorman's control- 
ler. This type had several disadvan- 
tages. The electrical equipment re- 
quired to control the heavy currents 
drawn by the powerful motors of 


large interurban cars made the con- 
troller extremely bulky, and the 
presence of high-voltage, high-amper- 
age currents on the platform pre- 
sented a potential hazard to crew and 
passengers. Also, the direct controller 
was adaptable to single car operation 

The invention of multiple-unit con- 
trol — which was essentially a re- 
mote-control system — by Frank J. 
Sprague in 1898 eliminated the short- 
comings of the direct-control system. 
The remote-control system employed 
only a small master controller at the 
motorman's position and a .low-volt- 
age, low-amperage control circuit 
that actuated, by means of magnet- 



ic or pneumatic switches, the main 
controller which was located under 
the car. When operation of more 
than one car in a train was desired, 
the control circuits of the separate 
cars were simply connected by jump- 
ers and the main controller of each 
car was then operated simultaneously 
with others in the train by the master 
controller in the lead car. 


Pilots and Fenders: Huge pro- 
jecting timber pilots were often em- 
ployed on the early cars, but when 
operation in trains was contemplated, 
pilots of more restrained size, re- 
cessed under the front of the car to 
permit coupling, became necessary. 
After the earliest years, steel and iron 
were almost always used for pilots. 
For winter operations in areas of 
heavy snows, pilots were sometimes 
covered with sheet metal to act as 
plows, or were sometimes replaced 
entirely by snowplows. 

City ordinances in many areas, par- 
ticularly in California, required elec- 
tric lines to provide their cars with 
special fenders, which looked not un- 
like a large bed spring, designed to 
scoop up wayward pedestrians before 
they were run over by the cars. 

Anti-Climbers: The projecting 
steel corrugations of this device, 
which was installed at each end of 
interurban cars, were supposed to in- 
terlock in the unfortunate event of a 
collision with another car, and pre- 
vent the floor of one car from riding 
over that of the other with a devastat- 
ing telescoping effect. 

Couplers: Interurban lines most 
often employed automatic couplings 
similar to those which were by then 
in general use on steam railroads. 
However, the short shank and limited 
swing of the standard steam road 
coupler made it impossible to use on 
the sharp curves of interurban lines, 
and special long-radius couplings 
were developed. Some lines devel- 
oped special fully automatic cou- 
plings which made all of the neces- 
sary air, electrical, and control con- 
nections automatically. 

Headlights: Oil lamps were used 
on the earliest interurbans, but were 



soon replaced by massive electric arc 
headlights. One problem encoun- 
tered with electric headlights was 
their failure whenever the power sup- 
ply was interrupted, often at a critical 
moment. Some roads solved this prob- 
lem by the use of a storage battery on 
the car. Another difficulty was the 
insistence by cities and towns that the 
bright arc headlights be dimmed. 
This was sometimes accomplished by 
means of a curtain device, which the 
motorman could pull over the head- 
light with a string, but most lines 
adopted combination arc and incan- 
descent headlights and turned off the 
arc light when passing through cities 
or towns. Later, incandescent head- 
lights were used almost exclusively. 
The "Golden Glow" headlight, which 
employed a special colored reflec- 
tor that extracted from the head- 
light beam blue and violet rays, 
thought to have a blinding effect, was 
a patented type that was widely used. 

Whistles, Horns, and Bells: 
Interurbans usually had an air-oper- 
ated horn or whistle which acted as 
a warning device. For operation 
through city streets some sort of air- 
or foot-operated bell or gong was 
provided for the same purpose. 

Destination Signs: Interurban 
cars operating over fixed routes some- 
times had the names of their destina- 
tion cities painted directly on the ves- 
tibule dash, but more often destina- 
tions were shown by metal or wooden 
signs hung on the front or sides of 
the cars, and sometimes illuminated 
at night by lights. Later on, an illum- 
inated roller destination sign became 
the most common practice. 




SANDERS: To prevent slipping on 
wet rail, most interurbans were 
equipped with some sort of sanders. 
A supply of sand, stored in a dry, 
well-protected box or container, was 
fed onto the rail by gravity or air 
pressure and was directed under the 
wheels by pipes. 

Heating Systems: Interurban cars 
were heated with either electrical re- 
sistance heaters or coal-fired hot 
water heaters, and a few cars had 
both types. The hot water heaters 
were more economical to operate, 
but took up more space and were not 
as clean as electric heat. An impor- 
tant advantage of a hot water system 
was the fact that a car could still be 
heated without a power supply. 

FARE REGISTERS: Some interurbans 
employed a fare register, which the 
conductor could operate from any 
point in the car, to ring up fares as 
they were collected, but most relied 
on the same type of cash fare receipt 
used by steam railroads to account 
for fares received. When one-man 
car operation became common dur- 
ing the '20's the time-consuming 
handling of fare collections by the 
motorman often slowed up opera- 
tion, and elaborate registers were de- 
veloped that automatically computed 
the fare and printed a receipt. 1 


"^L-^^^gSjA^, ,^3ag& 


Electrification and Current Collection 


Direct Current: Low-voltage, 
direct-current motors, which were 
simple and rugged in construction, 
and possessed superior control and 
performance characteristics under the 
varying demands of electric railway 
service, were by far the most widely 
used type on both street and inter- 
urban railways. Because higher volt- 
ages presented greater hazards to the 
public and were generally frowned 
upon for street railway service, direct 
current systems of 550 to 600 volts 
became virtually universal for urban 
electric railways, and since interur- 
bans frequently used the streetcar 
tracks to enter cities and were often 
operated by the same companies, 
600-volt electrification became the 
most common type for interurban 
railways as well. 

Low-voltage direct current did 
have some disadvantages in interur- 
ban operation, however. Since a larg- 
er current is required to transmit a 
given amount of energy at a lower 
voltage, transmission of 600-volt cur- 
rent over any distance resulted in 
either excessive voltage drop and 
power loss, or extremely heavy trans- 

mission line requirements. Conse- 
quently, the spacing of substations, 
which converted the high-voltage 
alternating currents used for efficient 
long distance transmission to the low- 
voltage direct current fed to the trol- 
ley wire, could rarely exceed 10 to 12 
miles. Even then, under severe oper- 
ating conditions the actual voltage 
available to an interurban car some- 
times dropped to as little as 250 volts, 
and often less than 50 per cent of the 
power generated was actually deliv- 
ered to the car. 

Higher voltage direct current sys- 
tems of 1200 to 1500 volts were also 
common, and since the current re- 
quired for a given amount of power 
decreased in inverse ratio to the volt- 
age, transmission losses were reduced 
and substation spacing could be sub- 
stantially increased. When operation 
over 600-volt streetcar lines was 
necessary, the high-voltage cars either 
were operated at half speed or used 
relatively simple changeover devices. 
Occasionally even higher voltages of 
2400 to 3000 were used on interurban 
systems, and on at least one occasion 
an experimental direct current elec- 
trification at 5000 volts was made. 

Basic substation equipment con- 
sisted of transformers to reduce the 
voltage of the alternating current 
from the transmission lines, and 
either motor-generator sets or syn- 
chronous or "rotary" converters to 
convert alternating to direct current. 
A motor-generator was nothing more 
than an alternating current motor 
driving a direct current generator, 
while the rotary converter performed 
an identical function but incorpo- 
rated both motor and generator into 
a single unit. In later years mercury 
arc rectifiers were developed which 
did the same job more efficiently. 
Occasionally banks of storage bat- 
teries were included in substations to 
provide for peak loads which ex- 
ceeded the capacity of the conversion 
equipment, or to act as an emergency 
power source in case of power failure. 
Many interurban systems also em- 
ployed portable substations, which 
incorporated all of the necessary 
equipment into a box car that could 
be moved about the system to lake 
care of seasonal or other peak load 

In earlier years of the interurban 
era, substation equipment was such 
that it required an operator in 
continuous attendance, but later 
reliable controls were developed 
which permitted automatic operation. 


Alternating Current: The use 
of high-voltage, single-phase alter- 
nating currents for electric railways, 
which largely eliminated the need for 
frequent substation installations and 
the problems of voltage drop and 
power loss inherent in low-voltage 
direct-current systems, presented, in 
theory at least, a much more satis- 
factory system of electrification, and 
enjoyed a brief period of popularity 
shortly after the turn of the century 
when a number of interurbans were 
thus electrified, usually with either 
6600- or 1 3,000-volt systems. Alter- 
nating current motors were less sat- 
isfactory in performance or efficiency, 
and the necessary heavy transformers 
and complicated control systems 
added greatly to the weight of rolling 
stock. Many lines found the equip- 
ment more difficult and costly to 
maintain as well. The complexity of 
A. C. equipment was further increased 
when operation into cities over 600- 
volt D. C. systems was necessary. The 
single phase A. C. motors normally 
used could also be operated on direct 
current, but separate control and cur- 
rent collection systems were required. 
Such were the practical disadvantages 
that in later years many of the A. C. 
interurbans were converted to D. C. 
operation, usually at great expense 
and necessitating extremely intricate 
construction schedules to avoid in- 
terruptions to service. When the 
Pittsburgh & Butler Street Railway, 
for example, converted from alter- 
nating current to 1 200-volt D. C. op- 
eration in 1914 it was able to realize 
a 15 per cent saving in power costs, 
and reduce the weight of each of its 
motor cars by 6 tons through elimina- 
tion of the bulky A. C. equipment. 


Direct Suspension: Overhead 
wire distribution systems were 
used by the majority of interur- 
ban systems. The most common type 
was the "direct suspension" system 
consisting of a single hard drawn 
copper wire supported at intervals 
of 80 to 125 feet from either metal 
brackets or insulated span wires sus- 
pended between poles on opposite 
sides of the track. Originally soldered 
"ears" were used to attach the wire 
to its supports but later a grooved 
wire was developed to which a 
mechanical clamping ear could be 
attached. Parallel feeder wires were 
used to feed current to the trolley 
wire. On single track lines, double 
overhead wires, spaced about 6 inches 
apart, were occasionally employed, 
one for traffic in each direction, which 
eliminated the need for overhead 
switches or frogs at turnouts and re- 
placed some of the feeder copper 

Catenary: The sag between sup- 
ports and the varying flexibility of 
direct suspension sometimes caused 
dewirement of the trolley wheel or 
shoe, and for high-speed operation 
catenary systems were often used, in 
which the trolley wire was hung from 
a "messenger" wire by hangers of 
varying length. The spacing of sup- 
ports was usually increased to inter- 
vals of about 1 50 feet with catenary 
systems. A few lines used catenary 
spans of as much as 300 feet. The 
more uniformly level catenary system 
was especially desirable when panto- 
graph collection was employed. 

Overhead Supports: Wood poles 
were usually used to support over- 
head construction, but some of the 
more elaborate installations employed 
substantial steel structures. When the 
supporting structure was also used 
to carry high tension transmission 
lines for a parent power company, as 
was sometimes the case, the resulting 
installation was impressive indeed. 
Within cities more ornamental metal 
poles were often used. 

Third Rail: For heavy-duty, high- 
speed interurbans third-rail systems 
were often used. A steel power rail 
was used, usually mounted about 6 
inches above and 20 inches out from 
the running rail and supported on in- 
sulators placed on the ends of extra 
long ties spaced every 6th to 10th tie. 

Third-rail systems had the advan- 
tage of a greater conductivity than 
was possible with a trolley wire, and 
could be more easily made level and 
true. However, because of the danger 
to human life, they could be used 
only on private right of way and most 
third-rail interurbans had to install 
alternate overhead wires where opera- 
tion in city streets or in populated 
areas was involved. Still other dis- 
advantages were the necessity for gaps 
in the third rail at road crossings and 
switches and the extreme vulnerabil- 
ity of the bare rail to sleet, which 
stuck to the rail like varnish and had 
to be removed with special scrapers 
or brine. The use of a protected 
third rail, which employed a metal or 
wood cover, helped eliminate the 
sleeting problem and reduced the 
potential hazard to life. Third-rail 
lines still required a pole line to sup- 
port feeders, and were usually more 
costly to install than an overhead 

Third rails were normally used 
only for low-voltage D. C. systems, 
but at least one line, the Michigan 
Railway, had a 2400-volt third-rail 
system, later cut to 1200 volts, on its 
high-speed Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids 
and Battle Creek-Allegan lines. Ex- 
tremely elaborate protective measures 
were required, however, to insure the 
safety of the public. 

Underground Conduit: A varia- 
tion of third-rail current collection 
was the underground system, consist- 
ing of power rails mounted in a con- 
duit beneath the track, which elimi- 
nated the unsightly overhead con- 
struction. The system was extremely 
costly and resulted in intricate spe- 
cialwork at switches and crossings. 
It was used in the U. S. only by street 
railways in Washington, D. C, and 
New York City, and the several in- 
terurban lines that entered Washing- 
ton were the only ones that ever 
used it. 

Current Return: Except on a 
few street railways, which employed 
a second overhead wire, and the 
underground conduit systems, which 
had a separate return rail, the running 
rails were universally used to com- 
plete the return circuit to the 
powerhouse. This required careful 
bonding between each length of rail, 
usually by means of copper wire. 
When bonding systems were not care- 
fully maintained the current had a 
habit of wandering off and following 
other conductors, such as water pipes, 
gas mains, and telephone cables, creat- 
ing electrolytic corrosion and other 
complicated problems. In one in- 
stance, in 1930, on the Milwaukee 
Electric's interurban line between Ra- 
cine and Kenosha, where many rail 
bonds were missing, it was found 
that the return current was striking 
off across a celery marsh for half a 
mile to the North Shore Line's rails, 
which it followed to Racine, then 
jumped to the city car rails and fol- 
lowed these to the Milwaukee Elec- 
tric powerhouse. 


In the early years of interurban 
construction, the provision of a com- 
pany-owned power generating plant 
was the usual practice. In many cases 
the interurban companies also sold 
power to communities or individual 
users, and the sale of power by inter- 
urban companies was occasionally the 
first form of rural electrification. The 
first electric range installed in an 
Ohio farm home, for example, was 
powered by current purchased from 
the Scioto Valley Traction Company. 
Indeed, many interurbans were no 
more than subsidiaries of large pow- 
er companies, although Government 
trustbusters were to frown upon this 
practice in later years. 

Because of the varying power de- 
mands at different times of the day, 
most interurbans found that genera- 
tion of their own electricity was less 
economical than purchase from pub- 
lic utility companies, and most later 
discontinued the operation of their 
own plants in favor of purchased 
power, i 


Electric Railway Museums 

in the United States and Canada 



Seashore Electric Railway, 
Kennebunkport, operated by the 
New England Electric Railway His- 
torical Society, was founded in 1939 
and is the original, as well as the 
largest, electric railway museum. The 
museum collection includes 43 city 
cars, 1 1 interurbans, and 26 freight or 
work cars, and represents a nearly 
complete selection of important car 
types and builders throughout the 
history of North American electric 
traction. Among the outstanding in- 
terurban cars preserved are light- 
weight, high-speed cars from both 
the Indiana Railroad and the Cincin- 
nati & Lake Erie. Over a mile of track 
is presently operated and construc- 
tion of 3 additional miles is under 

The museum is open daily from late 
June through Labor Day, and on 
week ends during the remainder of 
the year. Cars are operated daily dur- 
ing the summer. 


Branford Electric Railway 
Association Inc., Short Beach, 
founded in 1945, operates one of the 
most successful of all trolley museum 
projects. The museum collection in- 
cludes 28 city and suburban cars, 4 
interurbans, and 15 freight or work 
units, representing almost all impor- 
tant car types and periods. Outstand- 
ing among the interurban cars are a 
former Connecticut Company parlor 
car, still completely furnished, and a 
Cincinnati & Lake Erie high-speed 

A mile of track, part of the aban- 
doned Connecticut Company Short 
Beach line, is presently operated. 
Service over another half mile of 
track is suspended until reconstruc- 
tion of a hurricane-damaged trestle. 

The museum is open daily, and 
cars are operated from 1 p.m. to 6 
p.m. on Sundays from April through 
November, and during the same 
hours on Saturdays and holidays from 
May 30 through Labor Day. Cars 
may also be chartered by advance ar- 

Connecticut Electric Railway 
Association Inc., Warehouse Point, 
founded in 1941, or its individual 
members own 16 city cars, 1 interur- 
ban, and 10 work or freight units. 

Equipment is operated over a 
mile of track laid on the roadbed of 
the abandoned Rockville branch of 
the Hartford & Springfield Street 
Railway. In the future track will be 
laid over 3 miles of right of way 
owned by the group, and picnic fa- 
cilities are planned at the site of 
Piney Ridge Park, once operated by 
the Hartford & Springfield. 

Cars are operated Sunday and holi- 
day afternoons from July through 
October, with private charter opera- 
tion by advance arrangement. 



Rail City Museum Inc., Sandy 
Creek, opened in 1955, is principally 
a steam railroad museum, which also 
owns 2 streetcars and 2 electric 
work cars. In addition, 2 wood 
interurban cars from Ontario lines, 
owned by the Syracuse Chapter, 
NRHS, are located at the museum. 

Steam equipment only is operated. 

The museum is open daily during 
July and August, and on week ends 
during June, September, and October. 


Arden Short Line Electric 
Railway, Washington, operated by 
the Pittsburgh Electric Railway 
Club, was founded in 1954. Car own- 
ership includes 5 city cars, 3 interur- 
bans, and a freight locomotive. Of 
particular interest is former West 
Penn Railways car No. 832, the only 
intact surviving example of the fa- 
mous Cincinnati Car Company 
curved-side lightweight car. 

The museum has completed 3700 
feet of track, most of it on the right 
of way of the abandoned Pittsburgh 
Railways Washington interurban 
line. Construction of an additional 
600 feet is planned for 1961, and 
operation of cars may begin late in 
1961. Track is laid to the 5'-2>/2" 
Pennsylvania broad gauge, with 500 
feet of dual broad- and standard- 
gauge track. 

The museum is open to the public 
on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 


Maryland Historical Society, 
Baltimore, owns a collection of 8 

historical Baltimore streetcars, do- 
nated by the Baltimore Transit Co. At 
present the cars are in storage but 
attempts are being made to locate 
a suitable site for permanent exhibi- 
tion and, perhaps, operation of the 
cars. An additional car is on display 
at a city playground. 


Ohio Railway Museum, Wor- 
thington, founded in 1948 by the 
Central Ohio Railfans Association, 
has been operating electric cars since 
1952. Equipment includes 3 city cars, 
3 interurbans, and a wide variety of 
miscellaneous electric and steam rail- 
road rolling stock. Interurban equip- 
ment includes a 1905 Niles combine- 
typical of the graceful wooden cars 
of the early interurban years, and 
one of the Cincinnati & Lake Erie 
Railroad's famed lightweight, high- 
speed cars of 1930. 

One mile of track, laid on the road- 
bed of the abandoned Columbus, 
Delaware & Marion Electric Co., is 
operated, and another mile will be 
constructed in the future. A steam 
locomotive is also operated. 

The museum is open Saturday 
afternoons and Sundays, and cars are 
operated on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 
5 p.m. from May 1 to November 1. 


Ford Museum, Dearborn, has 
3 streetcars, including a former 
Fort Collins (Colo.) Birney car and 
a Peter Witt car. 


Illinois Electric Railway Mu- 
seum Inc., North Chicago, was 
founded in 1953- Six city cars, 5 in- 
terurbans, and a variety of elevated 
and work equipment are owned by 
the museum. Notable among them 
are a former Indiana Railroad light- 
weight, high-speed car; a coach and 
parlor car from the Milwaukee Elec- 
tric; and several Illinois Terminal 
cars. Equipment is temporarily stored 
until a suitable site for an operating 
museum is located. 

The present storage site at the 
Chicago Hardware Foundry, North 
Chicago, is normally open on Satur- 
days, and the cars may be seen Sun- 
days by appointment. 

Electric Railway Historical 
Society, Chicago, founded in 1952, 
owns 8 street railway cars from Chi- 
cago which are temporarily stored 
near Downers Grove, 111. Future 
plans call for operating trackage, pos- 
sibly in conjunction with the Illinois 
Electric Railway Museum. 


The cars may be seen Sunday after- 
noons, and usually on Saturdays. 

Illini Railroad Club, Cham- 
paign, owns 2 former Illinois Trac- 
tion System business cars built in 
1910 for the use of Congressman Wil- 
liam B. McKinley, founder and presi- 
dent of the system. Not equipped 
with motors, the cars are used for an- 
nual club excursions behind diesel 

Stored at Champaign, they may be 
inspected on appointment with club 


Iowa Railway Historical Mu- 
seum Inc., Centerville, was founded 
in 1958 by the Iowa Chapter, NRHS. 
The museum owns former Waterloo, 
Cedar Falls & Northern parlor-buf- 
fet-observation car No. 100, which is 
stored at the carbarn of the Southern 
Iowa Railway. Two annual trips, in 
June and October, plus charter trips 
during the summer, are operated by 
the museum over approximately 16 
miles of electrified SIRy track. In 
addition, SIRy equipment, which in- 
cludes a streetcar as well as electric 
freight equipment, is operated on ex- 

Waterloo, Ia., has a former 
Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern 
streetcar on display in Cedar River 
Park. The car originally operated in 
Knoxville, Tenn. 


National Museum of Trans- 
port, Barretts Station, St. Louis, 
founded in 1945, owns an extensive 
collection of steam and electric rail- 
way equipment. Electric car owner- 
ship includes 13 city and 8 interur- 
ban cars, as well as 2 cable cars, a 
Brooklyn rapid transit car, and an 
interurban freight locomotive. Of 
unusual historical significance among 
the interurban car collection is the 
famous test car Louisiana, originally 
constructed in 1904 for high-speed 
tests in Indiana and later operated as 
a Purdue University test car. Also 
noteworthy are 2 streamlined Il- 
linois Terminal passenger units, and 
a four-truck Illinois Terminal freight 

Equipment is stored on track laid 
on an abandoned Missouri Pacific 
right of way which includes two 
tunnels. Operation of equipment is 
not contemplated, but the museum 
will have displays of many forms of 
transportation equipment and a large 
transportation library. 

The museum is open daily from 
10 a.m. to 8 p.m., May 15 to Septem- 
ber 15, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 
September 15 to May 15. 


Pioneer Museum, Minden, owns 
a former Fort Collins (Colo.) four- 
wheel Birney streetcar. 



Cincinnati Railway Historical 
SOCIETY owns the former Cincinnati, 
Newport & Covington single-truck 
parlor car Kentucky, built in 1892, 
which is on display at the William 
Behringer Museum, Devou Park, 
Covington, Ky. 

The museum is open between 1 
p.m. and 8 p.m. daily except Mon- 
day, from Easter to October. 

Kentucky Railway Museum 
Inc., Louisville, was opened in Eva 
Bandman Park in 1958. Devoted 
largely to steam railroad equipment, 
the museum's collection also includes 
a Milwaukee streetcar. 

The museum is open on week ends 
from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 


Witte Memorial Museum, San 

Antonio, has a former San Antonio 
streetcar on display. 



Colorado Railroad Museum, 
Golden, has a display of historical 
narrow-gauge and standard-gauge 
cars and locomotives from Colorado 
railroads. Included in the collection 
are a four-wheel Birney streetcar 
from Fort Collins and a Denver & 
Intermountain interurban car, both 
preserved by the Rocky Mountain 
Railroad Club. Future plans con- 
template the construction of operat- 
ing track and electrification. 

The museum is open daily. 



Puget Sound Railway Histori- 
cal Association, Seattle, owns a 
streetcar, a British Columbia Electric 
interurban, and a line car, in addi- 
tion to a variety of steam railroad 
equipment. An operating museum is 
under construction at Snoqualmie, 


Glenwood Electric Railway, 
Glenwood, operated by the Oregon 
Electric Railway Historical Society, 

was founded in 1957. Car owner- 
ship includes two former Australian 
streetcars, and a Key System articu- 
lated Bay Bridge unit. 

Located on the site of the yards of 
an abandoned logging railroad, the 
museum has an old depot, water tow- 
er, and other buildings, among them 
former enginehouses used to store 
equipment. Cars will be operated 
over both standard-gauge and 3'6"- 
gauge divisions, to be constructed on 
abandoned roadbeds of the logging 
line and an SP&S branch. 

The museum is open week ends 
during the summer, and may be 
viewed by appointment at other 

Willamette Valley Electric 
Railway Association Inc., Port- 
land, owns 2 streetcars and 4 in- 
terurbans, among them the Oregon 
Electric open-platform observation 
car Cbampoeg and the British Colum- 
bia Electric Duke of Connaught. 
Equipment is stored at present and 
may be seen only by prior arrange- 
ment. Future plans call for operation. 


Orange Empire Trolley Mu- 
seum, Perris, was founded in 1956. 
Car ownership includes 43 streetcars, 
interurbans, and miscellaneous pieces 
of work, freight, and steam road 
equipment, chiefly from the Pacific 
Electric Railway and the Los Angeles 
Railway. Notable among them are a 
double-deck Irish tram, one of Pa- 
cific Electric's famous 1000-class 
wooden interurbans, an aluminum 
car originally operated by the North- 
western Pacific Railroad, and a Key 
System articulated Bay Bridge unit. 
The first 1000 feet of the museum's 
operating track and overhead were 
placed in operation during 1960, and 
ultimate plans call for construction of 
about 5 miles of track. All mainline 
track will be dual-gauge to permit op- 
eration of 3'6"-gauge Los Angeles 
Railway cars. 

The museum is open daily, and cars 
are operated for the public on Sunday 

Travel Town, located in Griffith 
Park, Los Angeles, and owned by the 
City of Los Angeles, has on display 2 
city cars, a San Francisco cable car, 
a Pacific Electric box motor, and his- 
toric PE locomotive No. 1544, the 
Electra, which was originally oper- 
ated by the North Coast Railroad and 
was employed in rubbish removal 
service following the San Francisco 
earthquake of 1906. 

The exhibit is open daily. 

Railway Historical Society of 
San Diego owns a former San Diego 
Electric Railway PCC car which is 


located on the grounds of the South- 
ern California Exposition and San 
Diego County Fair at Del Mar. A 
future operating museum is planned. 

Pacific Railroad Society Inc., 
Los Angeles, owns a former Los An- 
geles Railway funeral car, the Des- 
canso, which is located at Summit, in 
Cajon Pass north of San Bernardino. 

Los Angeles County Fair 
GROUNDS, Pomona, has on display the 
Pacific Electric Railway's elegant 
business car No. 1299. It may be 
seen during the fair the last two weeks 
in September. 

Pacific Coast Chapter, Rail- 
way & Locomotive Historical So- 
ciety, San Francisco, owns a collec- 
tion of historical railroad equipment, 
including several San Francisco street- 
cars, a two-car train of former New 
York "El" cars, and a Key System 
articulated Bay Bridge unit, which 
will be displayed at the San Francis- 
co Maritime Museum. 

Bay Area Electric Railroad As- 
sociation, Berkeley, or its members 
own 9 city cars, 4 interurbans, and 
5 pieces of work or freight equip- 
ment. Among the interurban car 
ownership are included a Salt Lake & 
Utah observation trailer and a Sacra- 
mento Northern combine. Equipment 
is presently in storage but the organi- 
zation plans to establish an operating 


Canadian Railroad Historical 
Association Inc., Montreal, owns 
12 historical items of railway equip- 
ment, among them 5 city streetcars, a 
suburban car, 2 interurbans, and an 
electric locomotive, from all parts of 

The group is participating in the 
development of a Canadian transpor- 
tation museum, which will include 
both operating steam and electric 
railway sections. A site was selected 

at St. Constant, Que., and work 
started late in 1960. 

Montreal Transportation 
Commission owns a collection of 14 
historical electric railway cars, most 
of them from the Montreal area, and 
including the first streetcar to operate 
in Montreal. This equipment will 
probably be placed in the proposed 
Canadian transportation museum 
near Montreal. 


Halton County Radial Rail- 
way, Rockwood, sponsored by the 
Ontario Electric Railway Historical 
Society, was founded in 1953. Equip- 
ment includes two Toronto streetcars 
and a Montreal & Southern Counties 

The museum is located on the road- 
bed of the abandoned Toronto Sub- 
urban Railway, and operating track 
is planned for future years. The mu- 
seum is normally open on week ends 
during the summer. J. 


1 HE following summary is derived largely from "The Literature of the Street 
Railway," by Foster M. Palmer, which appeared in the Winter 1958 issue of the 
Harvard Library Bulletin, and has been extracted with the kind permission of the 

Modern Types of City and In- 
terurban Cars and Trucks, John 
Stephenson Co., 1905, is an outstand- 
ing example of the carbuilder's cata- 
log which includes interior and ex- 
terior photographs of representative 
car types, freight equipment, car con- 
struction details, and trucks. 

Among the most important sources 
of information concerning the history 
of interurban railways are the several 
trade periodicals which were pub- 
lished throughout the interurban era. 

Electric Railway Journal was 
the leader among them. It began in 
1884 as the Street Railway Journal, 
then became Electric Railway Jour- 
nal in 1908. The title Transit Jour- 
nal was adopted in 1932 and con- 
tinued until publication ended in 
1942. The Journal is a voluminous 
source of technical and historical mat- 
ter concerning electric railways. Of 
particular interest are its special is- 
sues which were published on the 
occasion of the annual American 
Street Railway Association conven- 
tion and contained detailed articles 
devoted to the street and interurban 
railways of the convention city or 
special reports on electric railway 

Electric Traction was second in 
importance only to the Journal. First 
published in 1905 as the Interurban 
Railway Journal, it became the Elec- 
tric Traction Weekly in 1906, and 
finally just ELECTRIC TRACTION in 
1912. During the '20's the magazine 

sponsored the famous interurban 
speed competition. Still published, it 
is now known as Mass Transporta- 

Street Railway Gazette, later 
the Electric Railway Gazette, ap- 
peared in 1886 and was published 
for a decade before merging with 
Electrical World. 

Street Railway Review, founded 
in 1891, became Electric Railway Re- 
view in 1906 and was merged with 
the Electric Railway Journal two 
years later. 

Catalogs and other promotional 
literature published by carbuilders 
and electric railway equipment sup- 
pliers provide many details of cars 
and equipment, as well as a consider- 
able amount of general information. 
Almost every builder issued periodic 
catalogs which detailed representa- 
tive cars in the company's line, and 
such major suppliers as General Elec- 
tric and Westinghouse issued special 
publications devoted to modern cars 
of many builders, in addition to 
catalogs of their own lines of locomo- 
tives and equipment. 

Electric Railway Dictionary, 
Rodney Hitt, McGraw Publishing 
Company, 1911, is a comprehensive 
encyclopedia of the equipment of 
electric railways published near the 
peak of the interurban era. It is 
comparable in format to such steam 
railroad publications as the Car 
Builders' Cyclopedia. A reproduc- 
tion of principal portions of the DIC- 
TIONARY was published in I960 un- 
der the title Street Cars and Inter- 
urbans of Yesterday by Owen Davies, 

Development & Progress of the 
Electric Railway Industry, West- 
inghouse, 1923, described modern 
electric railway practices and offered 
a brief outline of electric railway 

Brill Magazine, published for 
promotional purposes from 190" to 
1927 by the leading carbuilder, is a 
rich source of interurban informa- 
tion. In addition to giving details of 
new Brill cars and equipment, the 
magazine regularly featured articles 
devoted to such topics as leading in- 
terurban centers and systems, and 
biographies of prominent electric 
railway officials. 


Throughout the several decades of 
their prodigious growth, electric rail- 
ways were considered to have an al- 
most limitless future; and their de- 
sign, construction, and operation were 
the subject of a number of engineer- 
ing texts, reports, and similar works, 
which now constitute an excellent 
source of information concerning the 
technical details of interurban rail- 

Electric Railway Transporta- 
tion, Blake & Jackson, McGraw Hill, 
1917, was typical of a number of elec- 
tric railway engineering and opera- 
tion textbooks. 

Electric Traction for Railway 
Trains, Edward P. Burch, McGraw- 
Hill, 1911, was another typical text- 
book, with a particularly good sum- 
mary of electric railway history. 

Report of the Electric Rail- 
way Test Commission, 1904, pre- 
sented the results and conclusions of 
a group organized by the officials of 
the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Ex- 
position, which conducted a series of 
high-speed tests on the Union Trac- 
tion Company of Indiana. 

Proceedings and other publica- 
tions of the American Street Railway 
Association, organized in 1882, are 
an important source of technical in- 
formation. The organization became 
the American Street and Interurban 
Railway Association in 1905, the 
American Electric Railway Associa- 
tion in 1910, and finally the Ameri- 
can Transit Association in 1933. Be- 
ginning in 1923, a committee of the 
Association chose the recipients of the 
Charles A. Coffin prize, awarded an- 
nually to leading electric railways, 
and the exhibits submitted by the 
candidates were the basis for Electric 
Railway Practices (1923-30/31). 
These volumes constitute a valuable 
source of information on leading in- 
terurban railways during this period. 

Reports and publications of the 
Interstate Commerce Commission and 
the many state regulatory bodies con- 
tain statistical and other information 
related to electric railways. 

Special Reports: Street and 
Electric Railways, issued by the 
Bureau of the Census in 1902 and 
1907, and later similar publications 
are a source of economic and statis- 
tical information concerning inter- 
urban railways. 

Poor's Manual of the Rail- 
roads of the United States from 
1868 to 1913 and Poor's Manual of 
Public Utilities from 1913 to 1918 
contained electric railway corporate 
and financial information. 

Moody's Manual included similar 
information from 1901 until 1924, 
when it was succeeded by Poor's, 
which was merged in 1940 with the 
Standard Corporation Records. 

Moody's Analysis of Invest- 
ments, which became Moody's Man- 
ual of Investments in 1926, is still 
another source of such information. 

McGraw Transit Directory, 
originally a section of the Street Rail- 
way Journal, listed every street rail- 
way in the U. S., its officers, and other 
basic information. 

Rand McNally's Commercial 
Atlas, published annually from 1911 
to date, is an excellent source of de- 
tailed information on interurban 

The Century Dictionary and 
CYCLOPEDIA, forming The Century 
Atlas, in its 1911 edition included 
maps of electric railways in the New 
England, Middle Atlantic, and Cen- 
tral states. 

Timetables and other promotional 
literature published by individual in- 
terurban companies often provide de- 
tails of their operations. The elab- 
orate timetable folders issued by 
some of the larger systems often con- 
tained considerable material about 
the various services and equipment 
offered, as well as schedules. In the 
early years of the century, many in- 
terurbans issued lithographed fold- 
ers containing handsomely colored 
panoramic maps, in addition to de- 
scriptions of recreational, scenic, and 
historical attractions along the way, 
designed to stimulate traffic. Booklets 
detailing the attractions available on 
electric lines were another variation. 
Among typical examples were: 

Wayside Scenes, published by the 
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Rail- 

A Little Trip Through History, 
issued by the Lehigh Valley Traction 

Summer Boarding & Tent Life 
on the Butler Short Line, offered 
by the Pittsburgh & Butler Street 
Railway; and 

Seeing Lancaster County from 
a Trolley Window, which stimu- 
lated tourist travel over Pennsyl- 
vania's Conestoga Traction Company. 

In areas where interconnected elec 
trie networks existed, many trolley 
touring guide books were published 
More of them appeared in New Eng 
land, perhaps, than in any other lo 

Official Street Railway Guide 
for New England was one of a 
number of such guides published by 
Robert H. Derrah of Boston. 

Trolley Trips on a Bay State 
Triangle was typical of the series 
of guides published by Katherine M. 
Abbott of Lowell, Mass. 

Trolley Wayfinder, the "Of- 
ficial Street Railway Guide of New 
England," was issued by the New 
England Street Railway Club. 

Trolley Trips Through New 
England, an offering of the Trolley 
Press at Hartford, was one of still an- 
other New England series. 

The Eagle Trolley Exploring 
Guide, which described many trolley 
outings in the New York area, as well 
as surrounding states, was published 
annually for a number of years by 
the Brooklyn Eagle. 

Interurban Trolley Guide, 
published at Chicago, outlined pos- 
sible tours on Midwestern interurban 

In recent years several books of 
considerable interest concerning elec- 
tric railways have appeared. 

Fares, Please!, John A. Miller, D. 
Appleton-Century Co., 1941, covered 
all forms of local transportation. A 
paperback reprint was published in 
I960 by Dover Publications, Inc. 

Trolley Car Treasury, Frank 
Rowsome Jr. and Stephen D. Maguire, 
McGraw-Hill, 1956, is a well-illus- 
trated popular history of street and 
interurban railways. 

The Electric Interurban Rail- 
ways in America, George W. Hilton 
and John F. Due, Stanford University 
Press, 1960, is a history of the in 
terurbans with particularly good cov 
erage of their economics, which in 
eludes a complete set of maps of U. S 
and Canadian interurbans and ind 
vidual histories of over 300 com- 

During the past quarter century, as 
the electric railway has all but van- 
ished from North America, a number 
of railroad fan organizations have 
been formed, which have helped to 
assemble and preserve much of the 
history of the electric railway, and 
their great variety of periodicals and 
historical publications have assumed 
increasing importance. 

Headlights, a monthly publica- 
tion of the Electric Railroaders' As- 
sociation at New York since 1939, 


although devoted largely to news, 
often contains much in the way of 
historical matter. 

Trolley Sparks has been pub- 
lished since 1944 by the Central Elec- 
tric Railfans' Association at Chicago. 
In recent years it has taken the form 
of a profusely illustrated annual al- 
bum devoted to electric railways of 
a particular Midwestern state. 

INTERURBANS, published at Los 
Angeles as a periodical from 1943 to 
1948, has also issued an intermittent 
series of Specials from 1944 to date 
which are largely devoted to West 
Coast electric lines but have occasion- 
ally ventured as far afield as the 
Midwest and Canada, and which rep- 
resent some of the best of the rail- 
road fan publications. Of particular 
interest is the column "Tapping the 
Field," by Felix E. Reifschneider, 
which appeared in the monthly /«- 
terurbans and discussed many of the 
details of electric railway equipment. 

Bulletins, published at Chicago 
by the Electric Railway Historical So- 
ciety, have included many excellent 
histories of individual traction lines, 
as well as reproductions of important 
articles from Brill Magazine and cata- 
logs of a number of car and equip- 
ment manufacturers which are other- 
wise almost unobtainable. 

Pacific Railway Journal, San 
Marino, Calif., has published in re- 
cent years several issues devoted to 
interurban railways, notable among 
them a beautifully reproduced Pacific 
Electric album by Donald Duke in 

The Western Railroader, San 
Mateo, Calif., has published a num- 
ber of articles or special issues de- 
voted to the electric interurbans of the 

A great many other individuals, 
regional fan groups, and chapters 

of such organizations as the National 
Railway Historical Society have is- 
sued many publications devoted to lo- 
cal electric railways. 

Transportation, issued since 
1946 by the Connecticut Valley Chap- 
ter of the NRHS at Warehouse Point, 
Conn., which has covered in great 
detail the histories of many New Eng- 
land traction properties, is notable 
among such publications. 

Railroad Magazine, published at 
New York, has contained occasional 
electric railway news and feature arti- 
cles since the late '30's, and has car- 
ried a regular Electric Lines Depart- 
ment, edited by Stephen D. Maguire, 
since the early 1940's. 

Trains Magazine, published at 
Milwaukee, has also carried occasion- 
al electric railway features since its 
inception in 1940. i 



book editor / DAVID P. MORGAN 




sketches / GEORGE A. GLOFF 

printing and binding / RAND MC NALLY & CO. 


The interurban era is past but some of the more resourceful aficiona- 
dos have acquired their own rolling stock. The Iowa Railway His- 
torical Museum operates a former Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern 
combine on tracks of the Southern Iowa Railway out of Centerville. 
Camera stops are one of the most popular features of fan excursions. 

William D. Middleton. 

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